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Bihar Assembly Elections: NDA Backs Nitish Kumar, Snubs Chirag Paswan; JD(U) Gets 122 Seats, BJP 121

JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar with BJP leader Sushil Modi addresses a press conference of NDA in Patna on Tuesday. (PTI)

JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar with BJP leader Sushil Modi addresses a press conference of NDA in Patna on Tuesday. (PTI)

At a joint press conference of the top leadership of the JD(U) and the BJP, where Kumar was also present, it was declared that the two partners have clinched a deal where both will have an almost equal share of the pie.

The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar announced on Tuesday its seat-sharing formula for the Assembly elections under which Janata Dal (United) will contest on 122 seats and the BJP on 121 out of a total of 243 seats. The BJP has backed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s leadership to the hilt and rebuffed Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan who earlier raised a banner of revolt.

At a joint press conference of the top leadership of the JD(U) and the BJP, where Kumar was also present, it was declared that the two partners have clinched a deal where both will have an almost equal share of the pie.

“The JD(U) has got 122 seats out of which we have set aside seven for the Hindustani Awam Morcha (headed by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi). The BJP has got the remaining 121 in which new entrant Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahni will be accommodated,” said Kumar.

The BJP later on Tuesday released its list of 27 candidates to contest the first phase of the polls.

At the press conference, it was made clear that "only those who accept the chief minister's leadership will be deemed to be a part of the NDA in Bihar". The two parties have settled for a formula wherein each constituent gets almost an equal number of seats and misgivings about the BJP changing its mind post-polls in the event of a better strike rate than the JD(U) were summarily dispelled.

In the outgoing assembly, RJD was the largest party with 73 MLAs, followed by JD(U) with 69, BJP (54), Congress (23), CPI-ML (3), LJP (2), HAM and AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi one each, and Independent (5). A total of 12 seats are vacant. Incidentally, Manjhi's HAM had earlier made public the names of candidates for the seven seats it will fight.

Manjhi himself will seek re-election from Imamganj (reserved SC) seat in Gaya district. VIP, floated a couple of years ago by former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni, was with the opposition Grand Alliance till last week. He announced an abrupt exit in protest against "back-stabbing" by the RJD, which helms the opposition coalition, and its de facto leader Tejashwi Yadav. His entry into the NDA followed his visit to New Delhi over the weekend during which he is said to have been in talks with top BJP leaders.

Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said, “The LJP is our ally at the Centre and we pray for the early recovery of its founder and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. But there should be no confusion with regard to the fact that in Bihar, the NDA’s leader is Nitish Kumar. Our alliance with his party is ‘atoot’ (unbreakable)."

Responding to a question about the post-poll scenario, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi asserted, “We have said unequivocally that Nitish Kumar will be our chief minister. It does not matter which party gets how many seats in the elections.”

Kumar did not mention Chirag Paswan by name but remarked, “I believe in doing my job. If some people derive pleasure out of saying something inconsequential, they are most welcome to do so. It does not bother me.”

Several leaders, including Jaiswal, BJP Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav, BJP's Bihar poll in-charge Devendra Fadnavis and JD(U) state chief Vashisht Narayan Singh, were present at the joint press meet.


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