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17-17-6: Amit Shah Announces Bihar Seat-Sharing Deal; BJP to Contest on 5 Less Than Its 2014 Winnings

Apart from the six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP is also likely to get one seat in either Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand, and a Rajya Sabha berth,


Updated:December 23, 2018, 3:10 PM IST

Patna: Flanked by NDA partners Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday announced the final seat-sharing agreement in Bihar for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, according to which the BJP and JD(U) would each contest on 17 seats, while six would be left for the LJP.

Apart from the six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the LJP is also likely to get one seat in either Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand and a Rajya Sabha berth, which is likely to be taken by Paswan, who is currently a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet.

The deal means that the BJP would contest on five seats less than its winning tally of 22 in Bihar in the 2014 general elections.

The deal also suggests a victory of sorts for the LJP, which had adopted an aggressive stand seeking a better bargain from the BJP after the exit of Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP from the ruling alliance.

Kumar, too, has managed to underline his importance for the saffron party, which will now contest on fewer number of seats than it had contested in and won in 2014.

The JD(U), which had fought the 2014 polls independently, and the LJP, which was a BJP ally, had won two and six seats, respectively.

Shah said all allies will soon decide on distribution of Lok Sabha constituencies among them for fielding their candidates in 2019.

Paswan, whose son Chirag had created a flutter with his comments seen as critical of the BJP and the central government, claimed on Sunday there was never a problem in the alliance as he has nurtures the "NDA tree" for five years under Modi's leadership.

A government under Modi will be formed again, he said.

The Dalit leader also thanked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who played a role in brokering peace between his party and the BJP.

In his comments, the Bihar chief minister, who enjoys good equations with Paswan, noted that the NDA had won 32 of the 40 seats in Bihar in 2009 even though results across the country had gone against it.

"This time we will do better than that," he said.

He was a BJP ally in 2009 before parting ways with it in 2013. He joined the NDA again in 2017.

Commenting on the decision to send Paswan, presently a Lok Sabha member from Hajipur in Bihar, to Rajya Sabha, Kumar said it is a recognition to his long service to the country and also thanked the BJP for the decision.

Paswan is a nine-term member of the Lok Sabha and the decision means that the 72-year-old leader is unlikely to contest any more popular election and will be handing over the reins of the party to his son, who was also present during the announcement, in the near future.

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