Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal United has proposed to contest on 115 seats in the upcoming Assembly election due in October this year. According to reports, the JDU has presented this formula for the seat sharing arrangements with the BJP, leaving 128 seats for the latter in the overall 243 seats.
The BJP and JD(U) will then accommodate LJP and HAM respectively from their share, the formula suggests. As LJP has been muscle flexing for increasing its bargaining position for quite some time, it is unlikely to settle with less than 25 seats; While the JDU is expected to leave maximum 6-8 seats for the HAM. Therefore, by this formula JDU will have more seats to contest than the BJP.
“In 2010, there was just JD(U) and BJP, hence we did not have many issues over seat sharing. We were part of the Grand Alliance in 2015 Assembly polls and contested 101 seats. Now that we are again part of the NDA and the senior partner, we are pressing for 115 seats. Let the BJP accommodate LJP and we will take care of Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) from our share,” a JDU source was quoted in The Indian Express.
The JDU is quite sensitive about its ‘Big Brother’ role in the state assembly which it has been traditionally playing out in the alliance with BJP. Hence, it will bargain to the last breath for a couple of more seats than BJP. The Nitish Kumar party was able to bargain an equal number of seats from the BJP in the last Lok sabha election which was considered a big win since BJP had to sacrifice a lot of seats to accommodate the JD(U).
The BJP had in 2014 Lok Sabha election won 22 and along with the alliance partners LJP and RLSP bagged 31 out of 40 seats. Yet in 2019 it agreed to contest only 17 seats just because it had to accommodate Janata Dal United which returned to the NDA fold. Both the parties contested 17 seats leaving six for the LJP.
This was a big sacrifice by the BJP. Political analysts are of the view that many in BJP are not ready to make more sacrifice for the Janata Dal United which has hardly any support base in Bihar. Besides they fear that there is a strong anti-Nitish wave and the saffron party may have to pay heavily in the coming Assembly election.