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Wary of BJP's Tactics in Bihar, JDU and Other Allies Prepare 20-20 Plan for 2019 Elections

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) want BJP to spare 20 of the 40 Parliamentary seats for them.

Diwakar Tiwari, Alok Kumar

Updated:April 9, 2018, 6:53 PM IST
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Wary of BJP's Tactics in Bihar, JDU and Other Allies Prepare 20-20 Plan for 2019 Elections
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
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Patna: Taken aback by the aggressive posturing of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), NDA allies in Bihar are now busy working on a twenty-twenty seat-sharing plan to keep the saffron party at bay ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) want BJP to spare 20 of the 40 Parliamentary seats for them.

Not just the small parties, many in Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) admit that BJP’s assertive Hindutva ideology will render their booth level organizational set up weak as they will be more vulnerable to the right wing firebrand campaign.

A JD(U) leader close to Nitish Kumar told News18 that in light of the recent incidents of communal violence, there is a palpable unease within the party leadership and they are apprehensive about BJP in case it gets a majority in 2019 general elections.

It is this fear that has compelled these BJP allies to think of advancing the Assembly election, scheduled in 2020 to hold them along with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A senior JD(U) leader told News18 that leaving BJP was not an option anymore for the allies and the BJP leaders are exploiting the situation.

“Nitish Ji is very comfortable with Sushil Modi and his team in the cabinet but at the macro level, the differences are for everyone to see.”

Political analysts believe this compulsion-led bonhomie with other smaller allies LJP and RLSP might give some strength to Nitish Kumar, which is why the three non-BJP allies have decided to dump old grudges and move on with a united front within the NDA.

The way these three parties have rallied around Nitish Kumar, suggests that they are in a hurry. They want 20 seats for themselves to leave the other 20 for BJP. After finishing his fifth meeting with Nitish on Sunday, 72-year-old LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan declared that he will contest from Hajipur and his son will fight from Jamui in the 2019 election.

In 2014 General Elections, NDA bagged 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar. As of now BJP has 22 MPs while LJP has six and RLSP has three. The JD(U) had to be content with just two seats but the party will be demanding more next year after its re-entry into NDA camp.

JD(U) leaders want seat-sharing on the basis of its strength in the Assembly. The party has 71 legislatures and are demanding at least 12 seats for the 2019 elections. LJP had contested on seven seats and won six, so Ram Vilas would be content with the number. RLSP had won all three seats they had contested but Jehanabad MP, Arun Kumar Singh later defected. So Kushwaha, too, can be content with his two seats.

It was a deal cracked by the top leaders of both parties when Nitish broke out of the Mahagathbandhan and went with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

A leader involved in the hectic parleys said, “That time it was agreed that BJP will contest more than half of the seats in Lok Sabha and JD(U) will get larger share in the Assembly elections with Nitish Kumar at the helm. However, recent developments have raised some concerns and Nitish Kumar is clearly not very comfortable.”

Another JD(U) leader added that a clearer picture will emerge only after a couple of months while many more interesting developments are expected in the meantime. But he also accepted that ties with BJP had hit a rock.

Suspicion among JD(U) cadres have grown so much that they fear once after regaining power at the Centre, BJP may choose to contest the Assembly elections all by itself. The JD(U) is thus working on an alternate plan with LJP and RLSP to create an axis of the Dalit-EBC vote bank.

However, even many among these parties some are not convinced about its viability if BJP manages to polarize the voters. So, they now hope to sail through with BJP and also push for simultaneous elections in the state.
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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