NDA seat-sharing talks for Bihar elections imminent
During the exercise, the BJP is expected to smooth things over between the two other alliance partners whose relationship has turned frosty this year.
BJP President JP Nadda arrived in Patna for a crucial meeting with alliance partner and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United). With this, the seat-sharing talks among the National Democratic Alliance partners are expected to be kickstarted. While the dates haven’t been announced, the election commission has said it will wrap up the exercise before November 29 when the assembly term ends, giving parties about two months.
Significantly, the meeting didn’t feature the Lok Janshakti Party, the third of the NDA, which has seen a considerable deterioration of their relationship with the JD(U). But it is understood that LJP’s expectations were also discussed during this meeting.
The BJP has said it will smooth over the differences between its two allies, with Bihar election in-charge and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis saying that no was going to leave the NDA and in fact, more people will join. He said the parties may be divided by ideology but were united by a purpose.
Under the leadership of current party president Chirag Paswan, son of the party founder and union founder Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP has been attacking the Bihar government over a variety of issues like the handing of the COVID-19 crisis, assisting migrants returning home during the lockdown and holding assembly election in between a pandemic. They have even alleged that there has been a total breakdown of communication between the two.
With Paswan clearly stating that he will stand firmly with whatever decision is taken by his son, there has been speculation about whether LJP will fight with the JD(U) or independently. The younger Paswan has, however, been praising the prime minister and the BJP, refraining from attacking them, while even being a little obsequious. After the meeting between BJP and JD(U) he said he had full faith on the BJP and whatever decision they make as it would be towards the betterment of Bihar. He even extended an olive branch to JD(U) saying he wasn’t personally against Nitish Kumar but was only raising the concerns of the Bihari people.
With only two seats in the 243-strong assembly last time, JD(U) leaders have brushed off Paswan’s attacks feeling he has negligible influence in Bihar. Recently Paswan announced that they will be fielding candidates from 143 constituencies. However, this might not be a number their alliance will accommodate. For the BJP, which is hoping to consolidate its influence in the state for after Nitish Kumar hangs up his boots, will try to contest in at least 100 seats in order to try to become the single largest party in the state. The chief minister remains hugely popular so JD(U) would also most likely be offered 100 seats from which to contest. This leaves only 30 odd seats for the LJP, factoring in their winnability, the strength of the opposition and the chance that NDA breaks, considering political consistency has not been LJP’s trait over its 20-year existence.