PATNA: Eager to enter the campaigns for next year’s Lok Sabha polls with greater coherence and unity, the ruling NDA may not only finalise the seat-sharing agreement among its four Bihar constituents in September but also may announce the names of the candidates at the same time.
It was decided during the 40-minute closed-door meeting between BJP chief Amit Shah and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over dinner on Thursday that the distribution of seats would not be delayed beyond September, according to sources in both the parties privy to the meeting.
Nitish Kumar, who is also the national president of JD(U), reportedly insisted on a September date for finalising the seat-sharing deal and Shah agreed to it. Kumar’s demand for at least 20 seats, however, failed to elicit any confirmation from the BJP chief, added the sources.
“The heads of the two biggest parties in Bihar’s ruling alliance had a very cordial discussion. When our hearts have come together, sharing of seats has little importance,” said JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh on Friday. “Our aim is to make sure NDA wins all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar,” he added.
Seat-sharing talks will formally begin next month and the four NDA parties in Bihar – BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP – would attend the talks with details of the seats they want and the candidates they want to field there, said a BJP leader. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, both Union ministers, are currently abroad.
“While insisting on an early seat-sharing deal, Nitish Kumar assured Shah of his resolute will to stay in NDA. The CM wanted to put an end to the confusion spread by the Opposition parties as early as possible,” said a JD(U) leader close to Kumar. Both the parties have asked their leaders not to issue “provocative or confusing statements” in the media, he added.
The Opposition RJD and Congress, however, dubbed the renewed friendship between BJP and JD(U) as dubious and said it will not be long before NDA in Bihar falls apart.
“BJP and JD(U) have realised the NDA boat has started sinking. So they engaged in this façade of friendship to fool the people,” said RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. “Both Kushwaha and Paswan are unhappy over getting enough seats. The four NDA parties in Bihar have a big battle to fight among themselves before they contest the polls,” he added.
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwary described the BJP-JD(U) alliance as “bemel” (inherently contradictory). “It is like east and west trying hard to stay together. They will not last in the alliance, and it will break apart before the polls,” he said.