‘Honourable pact’ almost sealed with BJP: Nitish Kumar on seat sharing

New Delhi: A couple of weeks after his party expressed unhappiness with the BJP’s proposed formula for seat sharing in Bihar for the 2019 general elections, Janata Dal-United chief Nitish Kumar today said an “honourable agreement” had been reached with the BJP.

“Honourable agreement has been reached with the BJP on seat sharing. A formal announcement will be made later,” the Bihar chief minister said in Patna on Sunday.

The remark came two months after Kumar met BJP chief Amit Shah, who put to rest rumours of a rift in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) camp in Bihar.

JD(U) general secretary RCP Singh said the alliance talks had almost been completed. “It (seat-sharing detail) is likely to be announced in a week,” he said in Patna after a state executive meet of the party that inducted election strategist Prashant Kishor into the fold.

Seat sharing tussle

  • As per the initial seat-sharing plan of the BJP, it was supposed to contest in 20 of the 40 seats in Bihar, it currently holds 31 seats along with allies. JDU was supposed to get 12 seats, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) would get 6, two to Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), and one for a splinter group of RLSP.
  • JD(U) had dubbed the plan unfair and “not honourable” at the time. In view of a stellar performance in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections in Bihar, BJP wanted a higher seat share than its allies. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the saffron party had contested from 30 seats and won 22 while its allies LJP and RLSP got six seats and two respectively.
  • In 2014, the JD(U) contested on its own but didn’t perform well bagging just two seats. It remains to be seen whether Upendra Kushwaha has a place in the seat-sharing plan, as he had spoken out a couple of times against both BJP and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar.
  • Hinting at a political realignment with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Kushwaha said a delicious “kheer” can be prepared with milk from the Yadavs and rice from the Kushwahas

Kumar and Shah met in July this year amid buzz of a formula for the distribution of 40 Lok Sabha seats between four partners of the NDA for next year’s general elections. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party are the two other partners in the state.

The JD(U) contested the 2014 elections separately and managed to win just two Lok Sabha seats. The three other NDA allies in the state won 31 out of the 40 seats in that election.

In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, the JD(U) won 71 of the 101 seats it contested, while the BJP emerged victorious in 53 out of 157 seats in which it fielded candidates. Sunday’s meet of the JD(U) was the first after the party’s national executive authorised Kumar to take a call on seat-sharing with the BJP.