Politics

NDA partners reject Nitish Kumar's seat-sharing deal for 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Patna, Nov 9(PTI): Weeks after BJP and JD(U) made it clear that the seat-sharing formula for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar have been finalised, two other NDA members, LJP and RLSP sounded a discordant note and said they wish to contest the same number of seats like they did in the 2014 elections.

Janata Dal United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar had earlier said that they have reached a "respectable" arrangement with BJP and speculation has been rife that BJP and JD(U) could contest 34 out of 40 seats, leaving the rest for other allies like Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

The BJP had won 22 seats in Bihar in the 2014 election, while Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP had contested on seven and won six. Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP had contested and won three seats.

State minister and LJP's Bihar unit chief Pashupati Paras on Thursday dismissed as "kite-flying" the talks that the two parties will make any sacrifices because of Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar agreeing on a seat arrangement.

"No seat-sharing talks will be complete until national presidents of all the four NDA alliance partners - BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP - sit together. That is yet to happen. All that is appearing in the media is hawa hawai (kite flying)", said Paras, according to PTI.

In reply to a query, he added, "Obviously we would like to contest from at least seven seats. We had won six of the seven from which we had contested last time and lost one by a slender margin of 7,000 votes.

"Our graph has not gone down since the last Lok Sabha poll and there is no reason why we should not get our due share."

Asked about the agreement Shah and Kumar reached, he said it indicates "nothing".

"The 50-50 formula could mean anything. It could even imply that the BJP and the JD(U) would be fighting only 10 each, leaving the remaining 20 for other allies," he added.

The RLSP insisted that it would not accept a share of less than three seats.

Its national general secretary and spokesman Madhaw Anand told PTI, "There is no question of our agreeing to less than three seats. In fact, Kushwaha has conveyed the same to the BJP national secretary general in-charge of Bihar Bhupendra Yadav in person and to Shah over telephone".

Kushwaha had met RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in a Bihar town minutes after Shah and Kumar announced in Delhi that they have reached a seat-sharing arrangement, fuelling speculation of a political realignment in the state.

Kushwaha, who shares an uneasy relationship with Kumar, has maintained that he is firmly with the NDA even as Tejashwi Yadav said there was a standing invitation to RLSP to join the opposition Grand Alliance.

Relations between Kushwaha and Kumar soured further recently after a remark by the chief minister that speaking about the dispute over seat-sharing with the RLSP was tantamount to lowering the standard of discourse.

Kushwaha has taken affront to the remark, claiming that Kumar, who is his erstwhile mentor, had in effect called him a lowly person and had taunted him for having joined hands with the BJP again after having taken umbrage over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's caustic remark about his political DNA during the 2015 assembly election.

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