While CM Nitish Kumar is the unquestioned face of the alliance, the ‘seat-to-seat’ combat has always been a vexed affair for BJP and JD(U) with the regional party prodding its ally to make concessions to accommodate allies new and old. Kumar can be expected to cite the induction of sitting RJD MLAs and the alliance with Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) to seek some concessions. BJP, on the other hand, is likely to push for a 50:50 arrangement by citing the sacrifice it made in Lok Sabha polls when it gave 17 seats to JD(U) despite the latter having got only two seats in the 2014 LS polls.
They also have to sort out how to accommodate Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the sacrifices each will need to make. While the overall social alliance works for NDA, the specifics of seat-sharing are crucial as the entire caste balance of the coalition hinges on it.
Kumar has tried to make the case that LJP has to be accommodated by BJP, but the latter is not keen to pick up the entire tab. Paswan himself, along with son Chirag, has been sniping at Kumar, raising issues of governance relating to migrants and floods. BJP chief J P Nadda, during his recent visit to Patna, had met most stakeholders including Kumar and sources said the two have already discussed the broader lines on which seat-sharing will be finalised.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed confidence that NDA will gain a majority. “We are confident that Nitish Kumarji will be CM again,” Prasad, who is the MP from Patna Sahib, said.
“There is no dispute amongst us. The alliance is strong and we are contesting as strong allies. Even seat-sharing will be finalised amicably,” JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi told TOI. He further said that seat-sharing announcements will be made very soon.
The JD(U) member’s confidence of finalising seat-sharing amicably stems from previous instances when the two parties forged an alliance without any dispute. In 2010, the parties had an alliance when JD(U) won 118 seats and BJP 98. However, they fell apart ahead of the 2014 LS polls with Kumar departing over Narendra Modi’s candidature as BJP’s PM nominee. The 2015 state election saw JD(U) team up with RJD and defeat BJP. But Kumar rejoined NDA in 2017.