BJP-JD-U to contest equal number of LS seats

New Delhi,  The BJP and JD-U will contest an equal number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar next year under a seat-sharing formula between the two sides, BJP President Amit Shah and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced after talks between them on Friday.

The other alies — LJP headed by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and RLSP headed by another Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha — would be given “respectable number of seats”, Shah told the media with Nitish Kumar by his side.

The talks between the two leaders followed a separate meeting between Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both Shah and Nitish Kumar said the details of the number of seats and the constituencies from which the parties would contest would be made public in two-three days.

Shah said discussions would be held with LJP and RLSP on the number of seats to be contested by them. In 2014, the JD-U contested the Lok Sabha polls alone.

“Upendra Kushwaha and Ram Vilas Paswan will remain with us. When a new fried has joined, the number of seats for each will come down,” Shah said.

Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP had won 22 out of 30 it contested while the LJP won 6 out of seven it contested and the RLSP all 3 it contested as part of the NDA alliance. The JD-U had bagged only two seats.

Shah said there was agreement that the alliance would contest under the leadership of Modi and form the government at the Centre after the 2019 elections. Nitish Kumar, Paswan and Sushil Modi, the Deputy Chief Minister, will lead the campaign in Bihar.

Shah expressed confidence that the NDA would win more seats in Bihar in 2019 than in 2014.

However, the LJP and the RLSP indicated that they were not going to compromise even a single seat less than it contested in 2014.

Meanwhile, Kushwaha’s meeting with Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, Tejasvi Yadav in Arwal triggered speculation that the RLSP may “walk” out of the NDA if not given adequate seats.

However, RLSP General Secretary Madhaw Anand told IANS, “We fought on three seats in 2014 elections. And since 2014 we have been with the NDA and would also remain with it in 2019.

Suggesting that the BJP should not neglect RLSP’s rising popularity, he said: “The BJP needs to assess a party’s popularity before coming up with a seat-sharing formula. And if they come up with the assessment, then we would get not less than three seats.”

LJP national spokesperson Sanjay Saraf told IANS: “We have not been conveyed anything about the seat-sharing formula.”