Climbdown in the JDU camp has come after the RJD flashed a strict ‘no’ sign to allow JDU into the RJD-Congress alliance.

 

As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah is all set to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his Patna visit next week, Janata Dal United (JDU) is said to be getting mentally prepared to settle for fewer seats than it was contemplating to contest in the 2019 general elections.

Sources said that the JDU may settle for 12-15 seats, as against 25 demanded by it so far. If that happens, BJP will finally emerge as the “elder brother” in Bihar NDA during the Lok Sabha elections next year. While BJP would get the lion’s share of the total 40 seats, efforts will be made to suitably accommodate other alliance partners like Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Upendra Prasad Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

The climbdown in the JDU camp has come after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) flashed a strict “no” sign to allow JDU into the RJD-Congress alliance. According to sources, the JDU chief has no option but to remain in the National Democratic Alliance.

However, sources also pointed out that the recent “threat” by JDU to desert the NDA was just a “bargaining tactic”.

Hectic parleys are on in Patna between BJP and JDU leaders to ensure that next week’s meeting between Shah and Nitish does not end in a stalemate. The JDU wanted seats to be distributed on the basis of the 25-15 formula of 2009, when the two parties had contested together. However, that was a time when Nitish Kumar had the upper hand in Bihar politics.

Nine years down the line, the bargaining power of JDU has reduced substantially, even as the RJD has re-emerged as a strong political force in the state. Nitish has also lost his credibility in the last few years due to his flip-flops in alliance politics. Though the JDU is said to be ready to climb down, the BJP will also have to make some adjustments. The BJP had won 22 out of 29 seats it contested in 2014. The rest were given to LJP (7) and RLSP (4). The LJP won six, while RLSP won three seats. So, besides JDU, the BJP will now have to accommodate LJP and RLSP as well.

On the other hand, the JDU could win only two out of 40 seats in 2009 as it contested alone, while it had won 20 out of 25 contested (under NDA) in 2009.

In the new situation, the BJP has reportedly offered the LJP and RLSP those seats which were won by them in 2014. This way, the number of BJP seats could well come down below 20, but more than JDU.

However, the equations may change in case Kushwaha decides to switch to the RJD-Congress alliance, which again is a possibility. But for the time being, BJP and JDU leaders want to ensure that the seat-sharing talks between their bosses on 12 July are fruitful, in view of the current political situation in the state. The JDU is holding its national executive meeting in New Delhi on Sunday where Nitish Kumar is likely to gauge the mood of party leaders. He is likely to meet BJP leader Arun Jaitley during his visit to the national capital. According to sources, two senior leaders of JDU held a preparatory meeting with BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupender Yadav, ahead of the Shah-Nitish meeting.

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