The BJP became the first off the block to name candidates for the Bihar assembly elections, putting out a list Tuesday night of 43 names, among them 26 sitting MLAs. It denied tickets to three MLAs as it tried to balance caste equations while keeping the focus on aspirations of the youth.
The BJP announcement came even as allies LJP and RLSP sulked over the number of seats they had been allotted in the state — under a seat-sharing formula announced Monday, the BJP will contest 160 seats, LJP 40, RLSP 23 and HAM 20 seats.
The LJP came out in the open Tuesday when Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag said they were “taken aback” by “the seat-sharing formula we were told about earlier and what was announced”. The party, however, said the alliance will remain “intact”.
The RLSP of Upendra Kushwaha too expressed unhappiness. Kushwaha retweeted an ANI report quoting him as saying “BJP ko bada dil rakhna chahiye (BJP should have a big heart)”.
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 15, 2015
His party leader Fazal Mallick expressed displeasure over the BJP’s declaration of its first list. He said declaring candidates while negotiations were still on to identify seats among partners was against the dharma of a coalition.
In New Delhi, putting out a list of 43 — 19 names for Phase 1, 15 for Phase 2 and nine for the other phases — Union Minister and BJP leader J P Nadda told reporters: “Fifty per cent preference has been given to youth and women while drawing up the list.”
It was released after a meeting of the party’s central election committee which was attended, among others, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Bihar will vote in five phases from October 12 to November 5 for the 243-member House.
In the BJP list, a fair number of seats have been allotted to OBC Yadavs in a bid to counter the RJD and split Yadav votes. To consolidate Dalit votes, the party has also given representation to the Ravidas community, Paswan and other SC groups.
The BJP has fielded first-timer Ranjit Nirguni against Sarairanjan MLA and minister Bijay Kumar Choudhary, deputy to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The party has denied tickets to three sitting MLAs, including the legislator from the reserved constituency of Katoria.
Opposition leader Nand Kishore Yadav will contest from Patna Saheb, a seat he has won five times. Six-time Gaya town MLA Prem Kumar also figures in the list. Contentious seats like Bhagalpur have been left for later.
Meanwhile, upset over the seat-sharing announcement, LJP’s Chirag Paswan said the formula agreed upon during seat negotiations were not followed and the LJP wanted that parameters applied to decide the number of seats for HAM and RLSP be also applied in its case.
Chirag said he gave the BJP a list of leaders from Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party against whom he and his party have reservations, saying they should not be allowed to contest in LJP areas.
In the BJP, many feel that party president Amit Shah “walked the extra mile” because the party did not want to upset either the HAM or LJP — both have a support base among Dalits who constitute 18 per cent of Bihar’s population. The tussle between Manjhi and Paswan is for the supremacy among the Dalits.
Succumbing to pressure from Manjhi, the BJP gave him more than what was initially decided. But the cut did not come from its share of 160 since it wants to emerge as the single largest party.
Chirag, who had a midnight meeting with Amit Shah to iron out differences, was candid at his press conference: “We were not angry, we were shocked. We were taken aback. Because the formula agreed on during the negotiations was different. We just want the same parameters to be applied in our case also.”
He admitted that the BJP leadership did not inform Paswan nor the party about the number of seats it would get before Shah made the announcement at an NDA press conference in the BJP headquarters Monday. “Nor did we ask,” Chirag said.