New Delhi: Following weeks of hard bargaining by Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar is understood to have sealed a seat-sharing deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the BJP and the Janata Dal-United contesting an equal number of 17 seats each, while the LJP expected to contest on five seats, top sources said on Friday.
In a bid to retain the LJP in its fold, the BJP is also believed to have agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat from its quota to the party. It is believed that it was the promise of one Rajya Sabha seat, made by the BJP to Paswan months ago, that had left him sulking.
The LJP is keen to have a seat in Uttar Pradesh but, a source said, the party may be asked to contest one seat less in Bihar. If not Uttar Pradesh, it can be offered a seat in Jharkhand.
The seat-sharing arrangement is likely to be made public on Saturday in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan.
Following the exit of Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP from the NDA, which joined hands with the opposition’s ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) this week, a cautious BJP has been making all attempts to ensure that the LJP remains intact in the Bihar NDA, with Shah playing the role of peacemaker to pacify the sulking allies.
Chirag, who has been vocal in airing his party’s differences with the BJP, told reporters that talks were on and claimed there were other issues besides sharing of seats.
Sources later said differences between the two parties have been resolved.
BJP president Amit Shah had earlier announced that his party and its key ally JD(U), which is headed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, will be contesting equal number of seats in the politically crucial state where the BJP-led NDA had won 31 seats in 2014.
The deployment of Jaitley, an old Bihar hand in the party with friendly relations with leaders of different parties, by the BJP to buy truce with the LJP underscores the importance the saffron party has attached to continuing its alliance with Paswan’s party, which enjoys strong influence among Dalits.
Top BJP leaders, including its president Shah and Jaitley, had held an hour-long meeting with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Thursday to resolve their differences.
Chirag Paswan had earlier written a letter to Jaitley asking him to explain what benefits demonetisation brought to the country. He had also tweeted that a delay in seat-sharing announcement may harm the ruling alliance.