PATNA: With a BJP leader in Bihar saying on Monday that the party plans to field candidates in all the 23 Lok Sabha constituencies it won in the last general elections has set off fresh bouts of worries among its three allies in the state – JD(U), LJP and RLSP.
“We are going to field candidates in all the constituencies in Bihar that we won in the last polls. BJP leaders and workers have started working for next year’s polls, and I am sure NDA candidates would win all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar,” said BJP state general secretary Rajendra Singh at Sasaram.
Singh, however, added that “due attention” would be paid to the “genuine claims and rights” of the three NDA partners in Bihar in the seat-sharing process before the 2019 LS polls.
The statement caused anxieties in BJP’s three restive allies in Bihar, especially the state’s main ruling party JD(U), which is led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. With JD(U) having recently dropped hints to BJP that it (JD-U) would accept no less than 15 seats to contest, the BJP leader’s statement met with sharp reactions from the regional party.
“I think it is a statement that weakens the alliance. Nitish Kumar is in the role of an elder brother in NDA in Bihar. The next polls are going to be contested under his leadership. Such statements coming before seat-sharing talks are certainly not welcome,” said JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh.
Of the 40 LS seats in Bihar, BJP currently has sitting MPs in 23 while its two old allies – Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP – have six and three MPs respectively. JD(U), which joined NDA in July 2017 after snapping ties with the RJD-led grand alliance, had won only two seats in the 2014 LS polls.
Seat-sharing discussions are going to be a tough task for NDA partners in Bihar as JD(U), which has the largest number of MLAs among NDA parties in the state, would bargain hard to get at least 15 seats to contest. Senior JD(U) leader and ex-minister Shyam Rajak had recently said the regional party wanted to contest in 25 constituencies like during the 2004 and 2009 LS polls.
LJP and RLSP leaders chose not to comment on the BJP leader’s statement, but sources said they felt aggrieved by the saffron party’s posturing. RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, who boycotted an NDA dinner meeting in Patna earlier this month, has reportedly demanded at least eight seats to contest in the 2019 LS polls.