The BJP,desperate to keep its remaining allies on board after the exit of Biju Janata Dal from the NDA,has made concessions to both JD(U) and Sena to reach fresh agreements,though without any blatant sell-out.
Consequently,the JD(U) has got one more seat in Bihar,reducing the BJP quota to 15 of the 40 seats. The JD(U) gain is Kishanganj,which has a very substantial Muslim presence,a factor cited by JD(U) for staking its claim. The party had originally claimed Madhubani too,again on the same ground,but the BJP did not give up the seat. The understanding came at a luncheon meeting between L K Advani and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
Though BJP-JD(U) ties hinge on Bihar,the latter wants a larger understanding encompassing UP and Jharkhand as well by the time a formal announcement is made. The JD(U) is insistent that the BJP identify its share fast in these states. In UP,the JD(U) wants three constituenciesthe same as last time. For the BJP,the difficulty is not as much over the number as the choice of constituencies. The JD(U) wants Meerut for its general secretary K C Tyagi,but the BJP wants to field a Vaishya candidate from the area to protect its own support base. It does not have much scope for manoeuvering following a seat-accord with Ajit Singhs RLD. Aonla,which the JD(U) contested in 2004,is ruled out this time around. The BJP has already fielded Maneka Gandhi from the seat. The third constituency sought by JD(U) is Badayun,represented by party chief Sharad Yadav in the past. In Jharkhand,the JD(U) is hopeful of getting two seats from a total of 14.
In Maharashtra,the Sena share remains the same22 of the 48but the smaller saffron outfit has had its way vis-à-vis important constituencies like Mumbai South-Central,Kalyan and Washim-Yavatmal. However,leaders of the two parties are unable to get over the bitterness created by trust deficit.
The new deal was simultaneously announced in New Delhi by BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde and in Mumbai by Sena leader Subhash Desai. Sources in the Sena told The Indian Express that the alliance would be formally re-launched in Mumbai by BJP president Rajnath Singh and Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray. We will not let Nitin Gadkari have this honour, they said.
The Mumbai South-Central constituency includes strongholds of both Sena and BJP. Pramod Mahajans daughter,Poonam Mahajan,was among potential BJP candidates from the area,but the Sena refused to relent,arguing that there would be no compromise over a seat which has areas like Parel and Lalbaug,where the Sena was born.