Rivals NDA, Grand Alliance on verge of sealing poll pacts - Hindustan Times
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Rivals NDA, Grand Alliance on verge of sealing poll pacts

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAurangzeb Naqshbandi and Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Oct 03, 2020 04:41 AM IST

The opposition alliance’s latest proposal is that the Congress will contest 70 seats, the Left parties, 29, and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahani, 11.

The opposing groupings in Bihar are both scrambling to finalise their seat-sharing arrangements for the coming assembly elections, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress close to finalising theirs, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal (United), and Lok Janshakti Party finalising at least part of theirs, people familiar with the matter said.

A hawker selling T-shirts with Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal United national president Nitish Kumar’s face printed on them outside party office, in Patna, Bihar.(Santosh Kumar/ Hindustan Times)
A hawker selling T-shirts with Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal United national president Nitish Kumar’s face printed on them outside party office, in Patna, Bihar.(Santosh Kumar/ Hindustan Times)

The opposition alliance’s latest proposal is that the Congress will contest 70 seats, the Left parties, 29, and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahani, 11. The RJD will field its candidates in the 133 remaining constituencies. A formal seat-sharing announcement will be made in the next few days after the six constituents of the Mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance, identify their respective seats, a Congress leader said on condition of anonymity, without ruling out some last-minute adjustments in the final agreement.

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On the other side, according to a BJP leader familiar with the matter who asked not to be named, the BJP and the JD(U), which have so far put up a joint front, are bargaining hard for a few seats. “Of the 243 seats, the BJP and the JD(U) have more or less resolved the division of as many as 123, as the parties have broadly agreed to retain the winning seats or strongholds. However, the parties are driving a hard bargain over the remaining 120,” said a functionary.

The LJP is also continuing to play hardball, insisting on being given between 27-36 seats, this person added.

The JD(U) wants to contest the most seats. “There is also some disagreement between the JD(U) and BJP on some seats where the incumbent quit the RJD to join the JD(U). The BJP wants some of these seats, while the JD(U) will have to accommodate its new members from these constituencies,” added this person.

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The BJP’s parliamentary board and the election committee is expected to meet on Sunday to finalise candidates.

The three Left parties — Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninst) — have been accommodated in the Grand Alliance following the assessment that the decision to keep them out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections hurt the grouping in many constituencies by dividing the anti-NDA vote.

There was also an assessment in the opposition alliance, especially by the RJD, that Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi added no value because their votes were non-transferable. Both eventually exited the Grand Alliance.

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The Congress leader cited in the first instance said the seat sharing will by and large be a “smooth affair” and added that differences between the party and the RJD were sorted out after Congress president Sonia Gandhi conveyed that her party would not settle on less than 70 seats. A second Congress leader said Gandhi also took strong exception to remarks made against the RJD leadership by some members of her party and asked them to desist from such statements at a time when all like-minded parties have decided to join hands against the NDA government in Bihar.

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