The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has finalised seat-sharing agreement for the upcoming Assembly polls in an all-important state of Bihar. The agreement was reached after the principal challenger BJP held marathon parleys with its allies, especially with Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) – a nascent outfit led by former CM Jitam Ram Manjhi.
BJP will now contest on 160 seats, LJP on 40 seats, RLSP on 23 seats and Manjhi’s HAM on 20 seats.
“With this alliance we will sweep over 2/3rd seats in Bihar,” said BJP chief Amit Shah while announcing the seat-sharing pact.
The final share was worked out after Jitan Ram Manjhi held a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah at latter’s official residence in New Delhi early on Monday. Prior to this meeting, Mr. Manjhi and his aides held a series of long meetings with BJP leaders including Union minister Ananth Kumar, party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan through the whole Sunday.
For the last few days, BJP’s top rung leadership have been holding hectic rounds of meeting with the former CM of Bihar to arrive at the consensus after latter expressed his disappointment over getting a sparse share of just 15 seats out of the 243 seat legislative assembly. Manjhi’s party-men had even reportedly “threatened” to reconsider continuing in the alliance if a “respectable” offer was not made by the BJP. According to the sources, the BJP on Saturday had offered between 13-15 seats to the Manjhi-led HAM, while leaving 40 seats for Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan led LJP and 25 seats for Upendra Khushwaha run RLSP.
Another cause of the disquiet within the alliance was seeming uneasiness between Mr Manjhi and Ramvilas Paswan, another strongman in Bihar. Last week saw both the sides sparring, lending the speculations of differences within the NDA fold.
While, Jitan Ram Manjhi charged Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan of neglecting the deprived section and practising ‘family-centric politics’, Paswan remarked that “Manjhi’s party was on trial in NDA”.
“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 last 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.
The speculations, meanwhile, gave the opposition a reason to take on the NDA.
“This is the beginning of the contradiction. Let us see what is in store next. Such alliances based on personal ambition and lust for power, do not survive,” Congress spokesperson told the press on Sunday.
The high-octane Bihar assembly polls, to be held in five phases, will begin on October 12 and results will be announced on November 8. The incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar led grand alliance is facing a testing challenge from the BJP-led NDA.