A month ahead of the crucial Bihar Assembly Election, the Bharatiya Janata Party has reportedly asked its allies in the state to make public pronouncements of unity within the alliance. With incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and has Mahagathbandhan on ‘shaky ground’ (Read this Firstpost article), the BJP will not want to squander any advantage — and getting its allies to display a united front is part of the effort.
The Indian Express reports that the BJP, apprehensive about the effect in-fighting and bickering could have on the NDA’s public image, asked its allies — the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM) — to send out signals that all was well.
This, according to the report, included a letter from the RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha to Amit Shah reposing faith in the BJP’s ability to take a ‘fair decision on the basis of ground realities’ to decide the seat-sharing formula in the state.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi was reportedly asked by the BJP to publicly set aside concerns about friction between the allies. India Today reports that while dismissing reports of a falling out with LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, Manji said, “Paswanji is like an elder brother to me. Such differences do occur in a family”.
IANS had reported on Wednesday that the finalisation of the NDA’s Bihar seat-sharing arrangement had been held up as a result of disagreements between Manjhi and Paswan.
According to The Indian Express, Kushwaha had been demanding around 70 seats (out of a total 243) for RLSP candidates, while Manjhi, as per India Today had ‘hinted’ that his party would not settle for less than 160 seats. The LJP, according to a report in The Tribune, had asked for around 80 seats.
The BJP is reported to have offered 20 seats to the RLSP, between 35 and 40 seats to the LJP and around 10 to 15 seats to the HAM.
Nevertheless, Ananth Kumar, who is heading the BJP’s effort in the state, expressed satisfaction at Kushwaha’s letter. And following separate meetings with Paswan, Manjhi and Kushwaha on Thursday, told The Indian Express “The seat-sharing formula will be very respectable. All four parties will contest the elections together and we will win in Bihar”.