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No Discontent in NDA, Seat-sharing Will be Decided When Elections Come: Nitish Kumar

Refuting rumours that he had demanded 25 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar, Kumar said that discussions over seat sharing will be held closer to the elections. He sought to put the blame on political leaders trying to seek "publicity" by making out of turn statements.

PTI

Updated:June 11, 2018, 9:55 PM IST
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No Discontent in NDA, Seat-sharing Will be Decided When Elections Come: Nitish Kumar
File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)
New Delhi: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday looked to distance himself from the reports of a wedge in the ruling alliance over the seat-sharing formula for 2019 and said that there is no discontent between the JD(U) and the NDA.

Refuting rumours that he had demanded 25 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar, Kumar said that discussions over seat sharing will be held closer to the elections. He sought to put the blame on political leaders trying to seek "publicity" by making out of turn statements in newspapers, TV channels and on social media.

Speaking to reporters, the JD(U) leader also denied that his party has demanded that it be acknowledged as "big brother" in the coalition comprising BJP, LJP and RLSP within the state.

"When elections come, all things, seat-sharing included, will be discussed and decided. This is not the time. Though some people may go on issuing statements for publicity, these have no substance (in mein koi dam nahin hai)," Kumar said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Lok Samvad, a public interaction programme where common people of the state are given an opportunity to come up with suggestions for improving governance.

He was talking to reporters in presence of a number of his cabinet colleagues, including Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, as also ministers Mangal Pandey and Prem Kumar.

The chief minister, who returned to the BJP-led coalition last year after leaving the Grand Alliance comprising RJD and Congress as part of which he had fought and won the 2015 assembly polls, was responding to the political controversy that had erupted last week after some JD(U) leaders demanded Kumar being made "face" of the NDA in Bihar.

Reacting to the demands, BJP leaders had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the face of the NDA in the country while Nitish Kumar was its leader in Bihar.

The demands by JD(U) leaders for making Kumar face of the NDA in Bihar and his party "the big brother" in the coalition was also seen by some as a tactical position for getting a lion's share in the seat-sharing arrangement.

This prompted another alliance partner RLSP to say that the next Lok Sabha elections, as well as the state assembly polls, should be fought under the leadership of its chief Upendra Kushwaha, who is also a Union minister.

A former JD(U) leader, Kushwaha had formed the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party after falling out with Nitish Kumar. Kushwaha also skipped a get-together of top NDA leaders in Bihar on Thursday last week though he claimed that he did not attend the function because of unavoidable personal reasons.

An Iftar party hosted by Kushwaha on Sunday was not attended by Kumar, Sushil Modi and leaders from the LJP, which further fuelled talks of discontent within the NDA in Bihar.

Before Kumar walked out of the NDA in middle of 2013 over elevation of Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate, the JD(U) and BJP had together fought Parliamentary elections in Bihar in 2005 as well 2009. In those elections, JD(U) had fielded candidates on more number of seats vis-a-vis the saffron partner.

But, in 2014 general election riding on popularity of Narendra Modi, the NDA won 31 out of a total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. While BJP bagged 22 seats, LJP of Union minister Ramvilas Paswan 6 and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha 3.

JD(U), which had fought the 2014 polls alone, could manage only two seats. With Kumar's return to the NDA in July last year, a raging debate has been triggered within the coalition now on seat-sharing between the four partners.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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