BJP and JDU agree to a 50-50 seat sharing for Bihar polls

After weeks of speculation and last-minute disagreements, the National Democratic Alliance partners, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal United have agreed to contest the Bihar assembly elections as equal partners. The third NDA ally, the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) on Sunday announced it will go alone, citing “ideological differences” with the JDU.

As per the new agreement, the BJP would be contesting on 121 seats and JD (U) on 122 out of a total of 243 seats but the ultimate gainer would be the BJP as JD (U) have to adjust HAM-S, which is likely to contest on five seats. The first list of candidates for the three-phase election will be declared in Patna, a senior BJP functionary said.

The BJP brass had marathon meetings on Sunday to finalise the party’s plan of action for the three-phase election starting October 28. There was a parliamentary board meeting earlier in the day, followed by the meeting of the central election committee.

The central election committee meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief JP Nadda, Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajanth Singh, Thawar Chand Ghelot and national general secretary and Bihar in-charge Bhupender Yadav, Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former minister Shahnawaz Hussain and BJP general secretary organisation BL Santhosh and Bihar unit president Sanjay Jaiswal and election-incharge Devendra Fadnavis among others.

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The central election committee deliberated on the first list of candidates for the Bihar elections.

The BJP functionary quoted above said first list of 65 candidates will be announced “in the next one or two days.”

On whether the committee discussed the LJP’s strategy to contest outside the NDA fold, the functionary said, “…it did not come up.”

In Patna, a JD (U) functionary said that the names and seats would be announced at a joint press conference, to send a message to the voters about the cohesion in the NDA.

In the first phase of elections, 71 assembly constituencies across 16 districts will go to polls on October 28. The last date for filing nominations is October 8 while the scrutiny of papers will take place, the next day. The last day of withdrawal of nominations is October 12.

Stakes are high for the opposition RJD in first phase of polls as in 2015 assembly polls, the region has given a handsome seat to the RJD. It won 25 seats as compared to 21 by JD (U) and eight to the Congress. All these three parties were part of the GA in 2015.

In comparison, the BJP had won 14 seats and its alliance partner, the HAM-S managed one seat only, while one seat each was one by CPI and independent respectively.

However, in changed alliance circumstances, the NDA with JD (U), BJP and HAM-S combined together have 36 seats as against 33 of the GA.

If JD (U) sources are to be believed, the party will be fielding nearly half the candidates from this region.

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