After much speculation over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s seat-sharing formula for Bihar for the 2019 parliamentary elections, party president Amit Shah on Sunday announced that the BJP and Janta Dal (United) will both contest 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will fight it out in six. Shah also announced LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan as the NDA’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls.
“We are sure the BJP will win at least 14 seats in Bihar,” the party chief said at the evening announcing the seat-sharing decision.
Paswan expressed confidence that the NDA government will serve another term in Bihar, refuting all rumours of internal unrest in the alliance. His comments were in reference to rumours of his switching back over to the UPA. He also expressed confidence that the BJP will sweep all 40 Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.
The LJP chief is the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the Narendra Modi Cabinet. He also served as a minister in the VP Singh government in 1989. Since coalitions became a reality in Indian politics, Paswan has worked in the Cabinet of six prime ministers of various political hues — the National Front, United Front, UPA and NDA.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said: “We are committed to development in Bihar. We are of the opinion that the Ram Mandir matter should be solved through a court decision.”
The seat-sharing announcement was delayed by a day as Paswan could not return to Delhi from Mumbai on time, as earlier expected.
Amit Shah is scared, says Upendra Kushwaha
The discussions between the BJP-led NDA constituents for seat-sharing for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections have been keenly watched as they come in the backdrop of recent troubles in the alliance in Bihar. The RLSP, on 19 December, left the NDA, with its leader Kushwaha blaming the split on the “arrogance” of the BJP and the Bihar chief minister.
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha took to Twitter to react to the news, urging his followers to note “how much fear is within BJP president Amit Shah”.
Kushwaha wrote: “He said we are the three parties of the NDA: The BJP, JDU and RLSP… after which Paswan ji said ‘LJP… Lok Janshakti Party!'”
The RLSP had quit the alliance after the BJP did not give the party a higher number of seats, as Kushwaha had been demanding. While quitting the alliance, Kushwaha had also resigned as the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development.
Shah had earlier announced that his party and its key ally JD(U), headed by Kumar, will contest an equal number of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, a politically crucial state where the BJP-led NDA won 31 seats in 2014.