The BJP is likely to settle for around 150 seats to fight from among Bihar’s 243. The rest of the seats will go to its three alliance partners, for the upcoming Assembly elections.
BJP president Amit Shah will host a lunch for NDA leaders including Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi at his New Delhi residence on Monday, which will set the tone for formal seat sharing talks. A formal announcement is likely to be made in the first week of September. Sources said that senior BJP leaders Ananth Kumar and the party’s Bihar in-charge, Bhupendra Yadav met Lok Janshakti Party leaders Chirag Paswan and Nitish Mishra, and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Shivraj Singh to informally discuss the seat sharing issue. The two leaders also spoke to RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha over telephone. They also spoke to Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi on the issue. A source who was present at the meeting with the two BJP leaders said: “The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere. There was no bitterness. I can say that the NDA members are warming up for the formal seat sharing talks.”
All top Bihar NDA leaders will take part in a BJP rally at Bhagalpur on Sunday, which is to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kushwaha recently said that while the BJP should contest 102 seats, the rest should be given to its alliance partners. But the BJP wanted to contest as many as 170 seats. Sources, however, said that once the negotiations start, the BJP may settle for around 150 seats, while the remaining 93 seats could be given to LJP, RLSP and HAM.
A BJP leader said: “Our strategy is to broaden our social base. Giving more seats to these parties will expand NDA’s social base, especially among Dalits and OBCs.”
According to Kushwaha’s formula, the RLSP should be given 67 and the LJP 74 seats. If HAM is included in the alliance talks, BJP, RLSP and LJP should all give a third of their seats to Manjhi.
Earlier this week, the RLSP and LJP held a press conference in Patna, in which state leaders asked the BJP to start the seat sharing talks immediately. During the press conference, LJP leaders supported RLSP’s formula of seat sharing.
The “grand alliance” of Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United and Congress, has already declared their seat sharing formula. The RJD and JDU will contest 100 seats each while the Congress will contest 40 seats. The remaining three seats have been given to the Nationalist Congress Party. The NCP, however, has expressed its dissatisfaction and threatened to contest in alliance with Left parties.