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BJP Stares at Possible Dissent in Bihar Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

In 2009, BJP and JD(U) contested together sharing 25-15 seats. While BJP won 12 out of 15 and JD(U) won 20, Kumar later broke the alliance in 2014 over Narendra Modi’s candidature as PM. Following this, both the parties contested separately.

Utkarsh Singh | CNN-News18

Updated:June 11, 2018, 12:43 PM IST
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BJP Stares at Possible Dissent in Bihar Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections
PM Narendra Modi being welcomed by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar at the Patna airport. (File photo: PTI)
New Delhi: As 2019 Lok Sabha elections draw closer, fear seems to have gripped the BJP in Bihar with seat distribution expected to cause friction within NDA allies.

The BJP, which leads the alliance, will have to watch its step before making any announcements as all the four National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties are eyeing Lok Sabha berths. Any 'wrong move' could hamper the party's prospects, especially as the united opposition is leaving no stone unturned to defeat the BJP.

Despite Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), JD(U) and BJP being a part of the same alliance, the parties often have different stands on important issues. Moreover, incidents of candidates’ skipping and hopping increase ahead of polls.

In such a scenario, it will be interesting to see how BJP keeps its flock together in Bihar during the 2019 general elections.

Keeping Paswans and Kushwahas

In 2009, BJP and JD(U) contested together sharing 25-15 seats. While BJP won 12 out of 15 and JD(U) won 20, Kumar later broke the alliance in 2014 over Narendra Modi’s candidature as PM. Following this, both the parties contested separately.

The BJP won 22 seats on its own while its new ally, the LJP, won six out of the seven seats it contested and the RLSP won three out of four seats it contested. The JD(U) was reduced to winning just two out of 40 seats.

JD(U) is now back in the NDA and on various occasions we have seen its leaders claiming that their party is the senior partner in the alliance.

This will become a problem for other allies like RLSP and LJP. Recently, the confusion was evident at the NDA unity meet which was not attended by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, citing other engagements in Delhi. The meeting was called by the state BJP for better coordination among the allies.

RLSP leader Nagmani recently said, "We cannot accept Nitish Kumar as the leader of the coalition in Bihar."

Recalling Kumar’s switch to the NDA, he also questioned the JD(S) chief's loyalty. “What’s the guarantee that he won’t go back with RJD?” Nagmani asked.

Tejaswi has already invited Upendra Kushwaha to join the ‘mahagatbandhan’. Keeping the vote share in mind, ‘luring’ Kushwaha in the joint opposition will be a big dent to the NDA vote share in Bihar.

Kushwahas make up 10% of Bihar's electorate. Amid possibilities and speculations, Kushwaha has claimed that the “NDA is together”. “We are with Narendra Modi. We will also ensure that he comes back to power in 2019,” he said.

On the other hand, LJP national president and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan is confident that the seat sharing will not be a problem and things will be sorted. With six MPs, LJP plays a vital role in keeping the Paswan votes intact.

But with people like Jitan Ram Manjhi already out of the NDA, the opposition may have a hard time to get LJP into its fold.

The seat sharing issue has now become a central level issue, and the BJP leadership will have to come up with a plan which keeps both LJP and RLSP satisfied. The question is whether the BJP will accommodate the LJP and RLSP from their own kitty?

RJD’s Growing Popularity

With the recent trends in both Lok Sabha and assembly bypoll in Bihar, where RJD emerged as the winner in both formats.

The Assembly seat of Jokihat which was with the JD(u) for last four terms was won by RJD, it also retained Araria Lok Sabha seat with its candidate Sarfaraz Alam defeating nearest rival Pradip Kumar Singh of BJP by over 43,000 votes. The party also won Jehanabad Assembly bypoll.

It’s a tough fight ahead for NDA in Bihar with the rising popularity of Tejaswi as the youth leader who has all the qualities to run the party keeping both young and old leaders on board.

Tej Pratap, who is in news for his controversial audio about indiscipline in the party, is actually a mass leader like his father. His style of speaking at rallies is similar to Lalu Yadav. Yuva RJD, which has been doing a great job in Bihar since the last assembly election,n is Tej Pratap’s brainchild and his connect with people is a true strength for the party.

The recent alliance between BJP and JD(U) has been stitched in a different political scenario when both the parties needed each other to form a stable government in Bihar.

The alliance was made after an understanding between Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar, and it is possible that a master plan on seat sharing would have been drawn between the two parties.

Many JD(U) insiders say that BJP is a bigger party and the leadership has a plan in place for seat sharing which will not disappoint its allies, JD(U) knows that they are now dealing with BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

As the time closes in for the Lok Sabha polls, a lot of political shifting is expected in Bihar. Regional parties, which have always played a significant role in vote share, will have a lot to offer and the BJP will definitely make sure that they stay together.

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| Edited by: Puja Menon
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