NEW DELHI: Following days of hard bargain, BJP today sealed a seat sharing pact for the Bihar assembly polls with its allies under which it will contest 160 of the 243 seats, while sparing 20 for Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM(S), besides 40 for Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP.
Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP got 23 seats to fight in the high-stakes elections starting October 12.
Flanked by key alliance leaders like Paswan and Kushwaha besides Manjhi, BJP chief Amit Shah said an "united" NDA was on its way to securing two-thirds majority in the state against the "crumbling" alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress.
Presenting a united face, Shah claimed acrimony among alliance partners, especially LJP and Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (secular), was behind them and all differences sorted out.
"There is no tug of war. There is no tension. You can see their smiling faces," Shah said, pointing to Paswan and Manjhi and sounding as much relieved as happy after finally thrashing out a seat-sharing arrangement acceptable to all the allies.
Shah said some of Manjhi's party leaders will also contest on BJP's symbols.
Playing hardball, Manjhi had for days refused to settle for BJP's offer of 13-15 seats. Manjhi persistently targeted Paswan, claiming he enjoyed better clout with Dalit voters.
Asked about the reports of his being unhappy with the BJP offer had resulted in delay in final announcement on seat sharing, Manjhi claimed there was never a fight over the number of seats and his only intention was that NDA should put up as many "winnable" candidates as possible.
With allies by his side, the BJP chief attacked rivals, saying the Bihar chief minister was promising to provide a crime-free rule in alliance with Prasad whose tenure in 1990s was dubbed by Kumar as 'jungle raaj'.
"On the one side is a coalition of compulsion and forced arithmetic with little common purpose, while on the other side is an alliance with a common chemistry and similar ideologies of development. Time has come for people of Bihar to vote for development," Shah said.