PATNA: Last-minute hurdles have been created in finalising the much-awaited sharing of seats among the National Democratic Alliance parties for the Bihar assembly polls as the BJP's major ally - Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) - is still reluctant to accept less than 50 seats.
This development comes after BJP's top leaders forced two of its allies - union Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha and former Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi - to issue statements that both would accept any decision on seat-sharing.
Incidentally, this stand was a significant departure from both leaders' earlier ones whereby they wanted to dictate terms to the BJP. But once the poll bugle was sounded, they surrendered to the BJP.
However, union minister Ram Vilas Paswan of the LJP has been allegedly using arm-twisting tactics to get more seats than offered by the BJP.
"Paswan-ji has made it clear to the BJP that the LJP will not contest less than 50 seats. In the last 24 hours, top BJP leaders have visited him thrice but he is adamant. We want respectful seat-sharing arrangement," a senior LJP leader, who is in Delhi, told IANS over phone.
On the other hand, BJP sources here said that the LJP might be given 40 or 40 plus seats to contest. "The seat-sharing has already been delayed; it is not good for us. It will send out a bad message to the people," a BJP leader said.
According to BJP leaders, the BJP would contest 160 to 165 of the 243 assembly seats and leave the remaining 83 seats to its three allies. The BJP is not ready to give more than 83 seats to the LJP, RLSP and HAM.
The BJP-led NDA was likely to formally announce the seat-sharing arrangement on Friday or Saturday following marathon meetings in Delhi since Wednesday among top leaders of the BJP and its allies.
"We are near to clinching a seat-sharing deal and it would be formally announced either on Friday or Saturday," a senior BJP leader camping in Delhi said.
"Manjhi has put full faith in Modi and Shah after he was assured that 13 JD-U rebel MLAs, who are now with his HAM, will be allowed to contest as its nominees, ignoring strong reservation from the LJP," the BJP leader said.
As per the understanding in the grand alliance, JD-U and RJD would contest 100 seats each and the Congress 40 seats. Three seats were left for the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, but the NCP walked away from the alliance on the issue. The grand alliance is yet to identify which seats each party would contest.