Paswan, Manjhi at loggerheads over two seats

New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The BJP continues to battle a tussle within NDA over seat allocation for the upcoming Bihar polls with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’ HAM at loggerheads over two seats in the parliamentary constituency of Paswan’s son, sources said.

Two days after BJP thrashed out a seat-sharing agreement with its allies, seat-selection continues to be a thorny issue even as the filing of nomination papers for the first phase began on Wednesday.

The polling for the first phase will be held on October 12.

According to sources, the Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) want to fight all the assembly seats in parliamentary constituencies held by them.

Sources said that BJP is not convinced with the demand as it wants to contest at least one seat in each of these parliamentary constituencies.

The BJP has decided to contest 160 seats in 243-member Bihar assembly, leaving the remaining to its allies – LJP 40, Hindustani Awam Morcha (20) and RLSP (23).

RLSP had earlier expressed its reservations over the BJP “unilaterally” going ahead with declaration of its first list of candidates. The party was upset as the BJP announced a candidate for the Karakat assembly constituency, through Kushwaha represents it in parliament.

Differences between the NDA’s two big Dalit leaders — Paswan and Manjhi over Jamui and Chakai assembly seats still remain a cause of concern for the BJP.

Manjhi is adamant on putting candidates on these two seats whereas Paswan is opposing it.

Sources said the LJP has conveyed to the BJP leadership that even if tickets are given to the two sitting HAM legislators in Jamui and Chakai, the LJP will put up candidates against them.

In response to Paswan’s message, Manjhi, who met Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Wedneday, has threatened to put candidates on all the 40 seats allocated to LJP, sources said.

Another tricky issue is allocation of seats in the Seemanchal region.

According to sources, the BJP is keen that its allies should take larger share of seats in Seemanchal region which has large presence of minorities and where AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has decided to to put up candidates.

Sources said that RLSP wants to fight only one seat in Seemanchal whereas LJP has expressed his willingness to fight from only two seats – Dhamdaha and Kishangunj.

Meanwhile, Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan said that his party has almost finalized the candidates on 29 seats out of 40 seats allocated to it.

The BJP on Tuesday released its first list of candidates for Bihar assembly polls with 43 names.

Bihar will go for five-phased election from October 12 to November 5.

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