NEW DELHI: In a joint press conference, leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) announced the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. As per the arrangement, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal United (JDU) will contest on 17 seats each while the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will fight on 6 seats.
In a show of unity, the announcement was made by BJP president Amit Shah, JDU chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan together. The BJP and the JDU also agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat to LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.
Shah said the parties have agreed to contest under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and win more seats in Bihar in 2019 than it did in 2014. Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP had won 22 out of 30 it contested while the LJP won six out of seven it contested. Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) had won all three seats it contested as part of the NDA alliance in 2014 elections but walked out of the alliance earlier this month after seat-sharing talks failed with his party. Kushwaha has agreed to contest the 2019 elections as a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance.
The discussions over seat sharing between the allies had been underway for over months. The decision was finalised after LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan along with his son Chirag Paswan held a series of discussions with Amit Shah and Union Minister Arun Jaitley. Jaitley is an old Bihar hand in the party with friendly relations with leaders of different parties. His intervention to resolve the differences with the LJP was a clear indication of the importance the BJP gives to Paswan's party which enjoys strong influence among Dalits.
The LJP had been insisting that they should get seven seats, the same number on which they contested in 2014, along with seats in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, too.