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Bihar seat-sharing deal for 2019 Lok Sabha polls finalised, LJP to contest on six seats: Report

A formal announcement on seat-sharing in Bihar is likely to be made on Saturday.

Bihar seat-sharing deal for 2019 Lok Sabha polls finalised, LJP to contest on six seats: Report

NEW DELHI: After some tough bargaining by the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Friday reportedly finalised a seat-sharing deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls under which the BJP and the Janata Dal-United JD(U) will contest on an equal number of 17 seats each in Bihar and the remaining six seats were given to the party headed by veteran politician and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

In a bid to retain the LJP in its fold, the sources said that the BJP has also reportedly agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat from its quota to Paswan's party.

A formal announcement on the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar 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. 

Confirming the development, LJP national spokesperson Sanjay Saraf told IANS, "It has been decided that our party would contest six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and get one Rajya Sabha berth." 

Earlier in the day, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and held crucial discussions with him over seat-sharing in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The discussion came a day after LJP leaders met BJP president Amit Shah and shared their concerns over the delay in holding talks over the seat sharing issue.

After the meeting with Jaitley, LJP Parliamentary Board Chairman Chirag Paswan expressed the hope that talks would move in the right direction.

"Talks are going on. An announcement will be made at an appropriate time. We have put our points before the BJP leadership and the important thing is that we are being heard. Hope everything will be fine," he told reporters.

His uncle, Ram Chandra Paswan, who also attended the meeting, however, said that the LJP would remain part of the NDA.

"We are and will remain in the NDA. Seat sharing will be announced this week," Ram Chandra Paswan said. 

"The party, which is having strongholds in any specific area, should be respected. We are a small party. We need adequate time for preparation. That's why we wanted the issue to be resolved at the earliest," he told reporters.

Sources in the BJP then said a final arrangement of seats would be formalised after a meeting of the BJP and LJP leaders with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in Delhi.

A BJP leader too claimed that talks were going in the right direction and everything will be finalised soon.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested from 30 seats and won 22, while the LJP won six seats and lost one. The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), which is now a part of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar, bagged three. 

In 2014, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) had contested on its own but performed poorly. It had won only two seats.

On Thursday, BJP leader and Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav first went to meet Chirag and Ram Vilas Paswan and the three leaders later went to the residence of Amit Shah. They were joined there by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The BJP and the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U had declared earlier that they would contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.