Bihar polls: BJP backs Nitish Kumar, rebuffs LJP; shooter Shreyasi Singh in first list of 27 candidates
Of the 243 seats in Bihar Assembly, the JD(U) has got 122 seats of which it will give seven seats to HAM, whereas the BJP will contest in 121 seats, and is in discussion with VIP for a seat-sharing arrangement within its quota
The NDA will contest the upcoming Bihar Assembly election with JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar at its chief ministerial face, the alliance partners said at a press conference on Tuesday.
While the JD(U) will contest in 122 seats, the BJP will contest in 121 seats, Kumar announced on Tuesday.
There are total 243 seats in Bihar Assembly, elections to which will take place in three phases.
"We have agreed to a formula under which the JD(U) has got 122 seats and the remaining 121 have gone to the BJP. The JD(U) will part with seven from its quota to accommodate HAM. The BJP will accommodate Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), the new entrant in the NDA," Kumar said.
While announcing the seat-sharing formula, the BJP backed to the hilt Nitish Kumar as its leader in the state and rebuffed a rebellious Chirag Paswan, while acknowledging his LJP as an ally "at the Centre".
The BJP on Tuesday also released its first list of 27 candidates, which included international shooter Shreyasi Singh from Jamui constituency and former MP Hari Manjhi from Bodhgaya.
BJP rebuffs Chirag Paswan's LJP
The crowded press conference was held nearly two hours after a marathon meeting held at the Chief Minister's official residence which was attended by top leaders of the BJP, including its national general secretary in-charge for the state Bhupendra Yadav, election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis and state president Sanjay Jaiswal.
After the meeting was over, Jaiswal appeared at a media centre set up by the party at a city hotel to give a soundbite, less than a minute long, wherein he reaffirmed the NDAs full support to Nitish Kumar.
The two parties also dispelled the misgivings about the BJP changing its mind post-polls in the event of a better strike rate than the JD(U) and rebuffed Chirag Paswan's LJP, which has taken a dissenting stand against Bihar chief minsiter and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.
"The BJP is completely behind Nitish Kumar to contest the election under his leadership. It's clear that the two parties with the BJP and JD(U) will win the election with two-third majority," said Bhupender Yadav, BJP national general secretary and in-charge of Bihar and Gujarat.
He added that the alliance win the election with two-third majority.
पार्टी पूरी तरह से @NitishKumar जी के नेतृत्व में एकजुट होकर लड़ेगी। यह स्पष्ट है कि इस चुनाव में #BJP और @Jduonline के साथ जो दो और पार्टियां हैं, तीन-चौथाई बहुमत के साथ जीत हासिल करेंगी- श्री @byadavbjp pic.twitter.com/EStCfO8CBf
— BJP Bihar (@BJP4Bihar) October 6, 2020
The BJP and LJP had contested the election together in the previous election. The JD(U), which had contested the polls as part of the Bihar Mahagathbandhan alliance with the RJD and Congress, later broke out of it and joined the NDA.
On Tuesday, the NDA announced no seats for the LJP, putting an end to suspicions in the JD(U) camp over the LJP. According to PTI, the BJP is said to have grown uncomfortable with Chirag's talk of helping formation of a government headed by the saffron party besides his insistence on using the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and slogans seeking to drive a wedge between BJP and JD(U).
The saffron party is also said to have been riled by a development earlier on Tuesday as well when Rajendra Singh, a senior BJP leader from Bihar with deep roots in the Sangh Parivar, was inducted by Chirag into the LJP at New Delhi.
Expressing rejoice over the development, Chirag had announced that Singh will be fielded from Dinara constituency in Rohtas district, from where the JD(U) has fielded sitting MLA and minister Jai Kumar Singh. Journalists present at the press conference also posed a question about whether the BJP will insist on having its own chief minister if it performed better than the JD(U) in the October-November polls.
Speculations in this regard have grown strong since the Lok Sabha polls of last year wherein both BJP and JD(U) contested 17 seats each and the former won all but the latter settled with all but one.
"Please be rest assured. Nitish Kumar will be our chief minister irrespective of which party gets how many seats", Sushil Kumar Modi said in reply to the question. Asked whether the LJP would cease to be a part of the NDA following the developments in Bihar, Sushil Modi replied cryptically "as Sanjay Jaiswal has already said, LJP is our ally at the Centre".
He also said: "If Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was well then the issue would have been different. Ram Vilas Paswan was sent to Rajya Sabha with JD(U) support. There is no confusion over Nitish Kumar's leadership as he will be next chief minister," said Modi at NDA Press Conference.
.@NitishKumar जी ही मुख्यमंत्री पद के उम्मीदवार हैं। मैं मीडिया के बंधुओं से अनुरोध करूँगा कि भ्रम में न रहें। यह गठबंधन अटूट है- श्री @SushilModi pic.twitter.com/53wUJsRcEl — BJP Bihar (@BJP4Bihar) October 6, 2020
Modi along with Kumar and Jaiswal expressed their fondness for Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, but sought to make light of his son's antics.
"We respect LJP and Ram Vilas Paswan ji but want to clear that Nitish Kumar is the leader of NDA in Bihar elections. We hope, Ram Vilas gets better sooon. Bihar's leader in NDA is Nitish Kumar. Only those who respect Kumar's leadership will remain in the NDA," said Jaiswal.
Ram Vilas Paswan is currently recuperating after undergoing a heart surgery at a Delhi hospital. Even though the BJP acknowledged the LJP as an ally "at the Centre", the party's backing of Paswan seems to have placed a question mark over the LJP's future in Bihar as an NDA ally under the leadership of Chirag Paswan.
LJP founder and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Vilas Paswan is part of the NDA alliance at the Centre and holds the portfolio of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the Modi cabinet.
Chirag has taken a dissenting stand against Nitish KUmar since he launched a "Bihar First Bihari First" campaign in March. Though he aborted the campaign mid-way because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he continued to take potshots at the government of the state pointing out that his party supported it without being its part, and questioned Kumar's handling of the migrant crisis.
On Monday, the JD(U) and LJP, had sparred over an open letter from Chirag who had asserted that votes cast in favour of the party headed by Nitish Kumar will facilitate "forced migration" of future generations.
In his evocative open letter, Paswan whose father and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan had floated the party nearly two decades ago said evocatively "we do not have much time to waste. It is a question of life and death for 120 million Biharis. "Every vote cast in favour of a JD(U) candidate will condemn your children to forced migration".
The JD(U), which has been taken aback by the LJPs brinkmanship, reacted with indignation and issued a statement that is likely to cut close to the bone.
"He has undertaken his political journey under the shadow of his father. He has no standing of his own. He has no understanding of the issues that matter on the ground.
"It is a fact that in dynasty politics, people end up harbouring huge ambitions without making much contributions," JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said.
Prasad said Paswan junior will be facing "his real test in the Bihar elections. The mandate will make him realise how much support he enjoys at the grassroots level. The people of Bihar are not going to be swayed by his tall talk".
Just doing my job: Nitish Kumar
At the press conference on Tuesday, Kumar did not mention Chirag by name but remarked sarcastically, "I believe in doing my job. If some people derive pleasure out of saying something inconsequential, they are most welcome to do so. It does not bother me".
However, he sought to rebuff Chirag's allegation that the JD(U) has not treated its alliance partners in the state well and asked "did Ram Vilas Paswan get elected to the Rajya Sabha without JD(U)s support?"
The 37-year-old LJP president has sought to pit his agenda against "saat nishchay" (seven resolves) programme of the Bihar Chief Minister.
On Tuesday, Chirag, according to News18 announced that "as soon as the next government is formed, all accused guilty of corruption in the seven government schemes will be sent to jail after probe".
He also said the pending amount will be paid immediately so that the incomplete work can be completed, he added.
BJP names 27 candidates, shooter Shreyasi Singh to contest from Jamui
The BJP on Tuesday released its first list of 27 candidates. The names include international shooter Shreyasi Singh from Jamui constituency and former MP Hari Manjhi from Bodhgaya.
Singh, daughter of former union minister Digvijay Singh, had joined the saffron party on Sunday.
All the candidates are for the election's first phase in which 71 seats of the 243-member Assembly will go to polls.
The party released the list after the ruling NDA announced its seat-sharing formula for the Bihar assembly polls under which JD(U) will contest on 122 seats and BJP 121.
The list of candidates include three ministers in the Nitish Kumar's cabinet: Prem Kumar, Ram Narayan Mandal and Vijay Kumar Sinha.
The BJP has named Munni Devi from Shahpur assembly seat in the Buxar district. There was speculation in the media that former Bihar director general of police Gupteshwar Pandey, who took VRS and later joined the JD(U), will enter into fray from this seat.
Former state minister and the RJD's old-timer Raghvendra Pratap Singh finds place in the BJP's list from his traditional Barhara constituency in the Bhojpur district.
Singh was denied ticket by Lalu Prasad's party in 2015 elections despite being a sitting member of the Assembly. RJD had given ticket to Saroj Yadav, who won the seat in the previous election.
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