Bihar polls: NDA finalises seat sharing, BJP to fight 160 seats (Roundup)

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) The National Democratic Alliance on Monday finalised the seat-sharing arrangement for the Bihar assembly elections, with the BJP keeping the lion’s share of 160 seats, leaving 83 for its allies LJP, RLSP and HAM.

It was also decided to contest the Bihar polls under the leaderhip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and let the chief minister be decided by winning legislators after the poll results are declared.

The maximum of 40 seats were given to Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), followed by 23 seats to Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and 20 seats to former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah announced the seat-sharing agreement at a press conference here after reaching a consensus with Manjhi when the latter met him again at his residence on Monday morning.

Shah said that as per the agreement, some HAM candidates will fight on BJP tickets.

Paswan, Manjhi and Kushwaha were also present at the press meet.

Shah refuted any differences among the NDA partners over seat-sharing, expressing confidence of winning two-thirds majority in the state.

“There is no difference among us over seat sharing. We will fight the election under the leadership of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi-ji and hope to win two-thirds majority,” Shah said.

Soon after the announcement was made, Paswan and Manjhi expressed their happiness over the seat-sharing arrangement and vowed to win the elections as a united face of the NDA.

“I am very satisfied with the seat-sharing formula. Our only target is to unseat Nitish and Lalu from power and to form the government of NDA,” Paswan told reporters, adding: “It will be our aim to make the candidates win for NDA.”

Manjhi too said he wanted the NDA to win in the upcoming assembly polls. “Our focus was to select winning candidates. We will fight as a united force to defeat Nitish and Lalu.”

Before announcing the seat-sharing deal, Shah held parleys on Monday morning with Manjhi, who was reported to be extremely upset with allotment of seats to his HAM.

On the issue of the chief ministerial candidate, Shah said the decision would be taken after the polls.

“We will contest the polls under Modi-ji’s leadership and as far as the chief ministerial candidate is concerned, it will be decided by NDA MLAs after the polls,” Shah said.

Shah also slammed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for allying with the Congress and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

“The alliance under the leadership of Nitish Kumar has joined hands with the Congress that has been involved in scams worth Rs.12 lakh crore. With such an ally, Nitish Kumar is promising a corruption-free Bihar,” Shah said.

“Lalu Prasad has been a symbol of ‘jungle raj’. With such an ally, he (Nitish Kumar) is promising a crime-free Bihar,” he added.

“All development figures that Nitish ji is citing are those till the time the BJP was a part of the state government,” the BJP chief said.

The Congress hit back at the BJP president, reminding him about the scams that have surfaced in the past 15 months in BJP-led states.

“Before pointing fingers at Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, the BJP needs to understand what ‘jungle raj’ actually is,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

“It was ‘jungle raj’ when the ‘bada Modi’ helped ‘chota Modi’ and moreover External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje helped Lalit Modi even on foreign soil,” he added.

He also pointed out the Vyapam scam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, Shah appealed to the voters to give the NDA a chance to rule the state.

“The people of Bihar have given power to the Congress, the RJD and the JD-U. I appeal to them to give a chance to the NDA,” he told reporters. “It’s time Bihar votes for development, for which voting for NDA is essential.”

Shah also took a dig at the Janata Dal-United, the RJD and the Congress combine. “Here we have a united NDA, whereas their ‘grand alliance’ is without a leader.”

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