PATNA/NEW DELHI: BJP and JD(U) have agreed to share the 243 assembly seats in Bihar under an almost 50:50 formula with 122 seats going to the Nitish Kumar-led outfit and 121 to the saffron party, sources in both parties said on Monday.
The two parties are likely to formally announce their respective candidates on Tuesday. In the fast-evolving political situation after LJP decided to go it alone while affirming support to BJP, NDA has roped in Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), led by Mukesh Sahni who quit the Grand Alliance last week.
VIP under Mukesh Sahni, a Mumbai-based businessman, marks the first attempt to organise Nishad and Mallah, an extremely backward caste (EBC) community who have significant presence in the state’s riverine areas of Ganga, Kosi, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and other rivers.
The other smaller party Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, was accommodated by JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar two months ago. He belongs to the Mahadalit Mushahar caste that has a huge presence in Gaya, Purnia, Katihar and Araria districts.
“JD(U) and BJP will give seven seats each from their share to HAM(S) and VIP to contest the polls. This would leave 115 seats for JD(U) to contest and 114 for BJP. The saffron party has agreed to give a slight edge to Nitish, who leads JD(U) that has more MLAs than BJP in the outgoing House,” a source said.
While the alliances with the two caste-based formations mark the growing assertiveness of the newly empowered social communities and an acknowledgement by JD(U) and BJP of the limits of their respective social bases, the tie-ups should help broaden the social coalition they represent. After ameeting of BJP’s central election committee, members of the party’s core team for Bihar polls returned to Patna on Monday.
Sources said BJP has decided to drop five-six sitting MLAs and will also not field kin of any sitting MLA, MP or a minister. It was learnt that a few senior members from the state had lobbied for their kids, whose candidature was rejected by the central election committee in presence of PM Modi and other senior functionaries.
The saffron party as well as its ally JD(U) are making fresh strategies about selection of candidates, mainly for the regions where LJP has decisive presence. State poll incharge Devendra Fadnavis and general secretary Bhupender Yadav held a series of meetings with senior members, including home minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and the CEC attended by PM Modi. Although party sources said there is no scope for reconciliation with LJP, they don’t rule out surprises over the next couple of days.
Mindful of potential losses in the wake of LJP’s unilateral decision not to field candidates against BJP in Bihar, JD(U) is working on a strategy to organise joint rallies of PM Modi and CM Nitish Kumar for its candidates.
The Kumar-led outfit wants that no room should be left for any confusion and the position should be made clear that even after LJP’s exit, the alliance between JD(U) and BJP remains strong. Besides, JD(U) will also bat for ouster of LJP from NDA at all levels as the Chirag Paswan-led party has announced that its ties with BJP will continue and it remains part of NDA at the national level.