Bihar polls: Churn within NDA to settle seat sharing

RSTV Bureau
Manjhi

FILE: Former CM of BIhar and chief of Hindustan Awam Morcha Jitam Ram Manjhi. Photo – PTI

BJP is in the midst of hectic parleys with the partners of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to draw a seat-sharing fine print for the crucial Bihar assembly polls, scheduled to begin in a months’ time from now. The main challenger, BJP and its allies, is seemingly grappling with differences among the allies, especially two local strongmen – former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan.

Incidentally, Manjhi-led Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and another ally Khushwaha-led RLSP has “authorised” the BJP to take final call on their share of the seats. On the other hand, Paswan-led LJP, which currently holds no seat in the legislative assembly, is seeking a ‘respectable’ share.

According to the sources, BJP leaders are fancying to contest between 160 to 170 seats, therefore, leaving between 73 to 83 seats for the allies. An announcement, though, will take a day or two more.

In between, BJP is also working hard to iron out difference between the allies, especially Manjhi and Paswan. The last few days has witnessed an exchange between the two threatening fissures within the NDA fold. While, the former Bihar CM Jitin Ram Manjhi charged Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan of neglecting the deprived section and practicing ‘family-centric politics’, Paswan remarked that “Manjhi’s party was on trial in NDA”.

Paswan-n-Chirag-Paswan

FILE: Union minister Ramvilas Paswan (R) with his son Chirag Paswan at an election rally. Photo – PTI

“How could he (Paswan) claim to be a national leader of Dalits when he did not utter a word on several issues plaguing the Scheduled Castes… I am telling this with due respect that Paswan has been unable to raise himself and his party above his son and brothers. His entire politics revolves around them,” Jitan Ram Manjhi had told the press earlier this week in Patna.

However, both the sides later tried to water down the strife even as the senior BJP leaders entrusted with the task of handling the allies held separate meetings with them.

In a relief to the BJP, another ally and the chief of RLSP, Upendra Kushwaha, wrote to the BJP president Amit Shah leaving decision on his party’s seat share solely on the BJP.

“I have full faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah… Our priority is the resurrection of Bihar and its development and issues like division of seats should not come in the way of reaching our goal,” said Kushwaha, who is also a minister in Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

Jitan Ram Manjhi, who held meeting with Anant Kumar on Thursday, too left the decision of seat share on the BJP though he “pleaded” for adequate representation of his party in the final print.

“We will accept whatever decision Modi and Shah take,” Manjhi told the press after his meeting with senior BJP leader Anant Kumar.

The senior BJP leaders and the state in-charge Bhupendre Yadav is expected to hold meeting with the Paswan-led LJP on the Friday.

(With inputs from the PTI)