Bihar: BJP’s Mission 185 under threat as allies fight over seat sharing
As if offering himself as the NDA’s chief minister candidate was not enough, Upendra Kushwaha, leader of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), has even come up with a formula for distribution seats among the allies.
Patna: BJP chief Amit Shah’s visit anywhere is always a high profile event. But his last visit to Patna was an unusually quiet affair. He chose not to interact with the media during his day-long stay in the city on Sunday. After a half-an-hour yoga session at a local stadium he remained closeted with party leaders the whole day before leaving the city in the evening. This was in sharp contrast to his earlier two visits to Patna this year when he had made his presence literally felt through robust attacks on the Lalu-Nitish duo.
Not much would have been read into his silence but for the sense of unease in the Bihar BJP ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar. The top leadership of the party is taken by surprise by the aggression being displayed by junior NDA allies with only marginal presence in the state. They have stopped being docile and it does not augur well for the BJP which is caught in its own low intensity conflicts over leadership. Poor handling of the situation could rip apart the umbrella alliance of caste-based outfits, rendering the NDA weak against the combined might of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar.
As if offering himself as the NDA’s chief minister candidate was not enough, Upendra Kushwaha, leader of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), has even come up with a formula for distribution seats among the allies. As per his formula, BJP should contest on 102 seats—the number of seats it had been spared by the JD(U) while both were parts of the NDA, 74 seats should be allotted to the LJP whereas the remaining 67 seats should go to his party. He even suggested that all the three partners should spare seats in a proportionate way in case Jitan Ram Manjhi becomes parts of the NDA.
Kushwaha’s suggestion seeks to rebuff BJP’s plan to gain majority on its own as is reflected in the party’s ‘Mission 185-plus’ in Bihar. To achieve the majority figure of 122 seats in a House of 243, the BJP is required to field its candidates on maximum number of seats but the ‘Kushawaha’s formula’ is a clear obstacle.
Interestingly, Kushwaha, a creation of Nitish Kumar, does not have a presence in the whole of Bihar. His RLSP, which came into being just ahead of the last year’s Lok Sabha polls, is yet to contest any assembly elections. All three candidates of the party emerged victorious but it was more due to the Narendra Modi’s wave than his own appeal among the masses.
Likewise, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan too is trying to extract its pound of flesh from the BJP. The party with no legislator in the Bihar assembly has announced that it would oppose five candidates from Manjhi’s party. “We will put up our candidates against these five present and former MLAs if Manjhi gives them tickets to contest the poll under the NDA,” said state LJP president Pasupati Kumar Paras at a press meet as his brother and Union minister Paswan sitting next to him nodded in approval.
LJP, which corners fiver percent of votes on an average, is scared that Manjhi may emerge as a taller Dalit leader than him. Manjhi represents some 23 percent of Mahadalit population comprising 23 sub-castes of Dalits but he too remains to be tested as his newly-formed Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) is yet to join any election. Manjhi formed the HAM shortly after his rebellion against Nitish in February this year.
Right now Manjhi and Paswan, two coalition partners of the BJP, are now engaged in bitter verbal duels on the streets much to the merriment of the grand secular alliance. While the LJP has declared to oppose HAM candidates, Manjhi has dared Paswan to do that, saying the latter does not have the moral authority to do that. The verbal duel among NDA allies has only queered the pitch for the BJP who will be taking on the united socialists for the first time in 20 years.
Past records show that the BJP has grown up in Bihar more due to bitter rivalries among various splinter groups of the Janata family than its own strength. The party, which enjoys its support primarily among the upper castes and the Bania community, banked on the support of either Samata Party, the Janata Dal (United) or the LJP for its success. This is the first time in 20 years that it will be facing a united Janata family comprising Nitish and Lalu with the Congress and the NCP on their side.
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