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JD(U) Plays Hardball, Says Won't Offer BJP More Than 22 Seats From Bihar in 2019

A day before the JD(U)'s national executive meet, senior leader KC Tyagi told News18 that his party would contest the election as the elder brother.

Updated:July 6, 2018, 7:10 PM IST
JD(U) Plays Hardball, Says Won't Offer BJP More Than 22 Seats From Bihar in 2019
File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
Patna: Just days before BJP chief Amit Shah was scheduled to meet Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal (United) made it clear that it was not willing to give BJP more than 22 seats for next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi told News18 that his party would contest the election as the elder brother. The assertion comes a day before the party’s all-important executive meet where it will draw the strategy for the seat sharing for the general elections.

Another JD(U) leader, Shyam Rajak, also said that Nitish would contest the election as the main face of the alliance in Bihar. “The JD(U) is the big brother in Bihar and Nitish Kumar’s work is also big. If the BJP spreads word of his good work, it will yield a good result for the party,” he said.

This growing posturing comes amid the growing unease between the two parties on leadership issues as well as poll strategy.

The BJP had recently hinted that it would not be willing to give Nitish Kumar’s party more than nine seats out of the 40 on offer in the state, far fewer than the 15 that JD(U) considers “adequate representation”.

But for JD(U) and Nitish Kumar this would be seen as a loss of face. Sources in the party said that the seats that the BJP is ready to offer are those that have a strong presence of Yadav and Muslims.

Even when the BJP won handsomely in 2014, a large number of these seats were bagged by the opposition, so the chances of JD(U) winning in 2019 would be slim, a senior party leader said.

Earlier too, the JD(U) had signaled that it wants the results of the 2015 Assembly elections to be the benchmark for the division of seats between the four NDA allies and not the 2014 LS election.

In the Assembly election, the JD(U) had won 71 of the 243 seats, while the BJP had emerged victorious in 53 seats and the LJP and RLSP in two each. The JD(U) was then an ally of the RJD and the Congress, before it dumped them last year to rejoin the NDA.

In the 2014 polls, the BJP had won 22 seats with the LJP and the RLSP winning six and three seats respectively.

When the JD(U) was a BJP ally till 2013, it was the undisputed senior coalition partner in the state and would contest more number of Lok Sabha as well as Assembly seats. In Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) would field candidates in 25 seats and the BJP 15.

However, the BJP's sweep in 2014 has changed the equation and the entry of more parties into the NDA means old equations are no longer relevant.

Formal talks over a seat-sharing formula among the NDA constituents are yet to begin and JD(U) leaders want it to be settled quickly to ensure that talk of the rift is nipped in the bud. Amit Shah is expected to iron out the differences with Nitish at the meeting over tea on July 12, sources said.

But Nitish’s phone call to Lalu Prasad Yadav last week has also given rise to speculation that he is exploring all options, including a return to the Grand Alliance fold, a suggestion that was quickly rebuffed by Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav.
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