Manjhi’s demand holds up NDA seat-sharing announcement

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) The much expected announcement of a seat-sharing arrangement among NDA allies for the Bihar assembly polls could not be made on Saturday due to Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Jitan Ram Manjhi’s demand for more seats, sources said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders continued to hold discussions with the constituents – Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Manjhi’s HAM (Secular) through the day on Saturday to iron out differences over some seats.

At one time, it seemed the announcement will come through as the BJP seemed to have worked out a formula under which it would contest 162 of the total 243 assembly seats in the fray, leaving 41 for LJP, 25 for RLSP and 15 for HAM.

Sources said it had also been decided that five candidates of HAM would contest on BJP’s symbol as a compromise formula.

BJP leader Anant Kumar had told reporters after a series of meetings at party chief Amit Shah’s residence that an announcement would be made in the evening.

However, the hope of an announcement proved short lived as Manjhi went into a sulk after meeting his supporters in Bihar Bhavan, who pressed for more seats.

Manjhi then went to meet Anant Kumar, who is election incharge of Bihar and Bhupendra Yadav, who is BJP incharge of Bihar, and conveyed his grievances.

The three leaders then went to the residence of Amit Shah to sort out the issues concerning seat sharing.

Manjhi later said that announcement of seats would be made on Sunday. “Talks are going on. Announcement will be made tomorrow morning.”

The BJP leaders also went into a huddle later in the evening at Shah’s residence.

Those present at the meeting included BJP leaders from Bihar – Sushil Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, C.P. Thakur, Ashwani Choubey and Giriraj Singh – apart from Anant Kumar and Bhupendra Yadav.

There had been a tussle between Manjhi and Ram Vilas Paswan over some seats in Jamui district, represented by Paswan’s son Chirag in parliament. However, the issue appears to have been settled following a late evening meeting on Friday between the BJP and LJP leaders.

Polls to the Bihar assembly will be held in five phases starting on October 12 and ending on November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.

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