Just two days before the filing of nomination for the first phase of polling begins, there is no clarity on the shape of the NDA and Grand Alliance camps.
While the LJP is likely to take a call on whether to stay in the NDA by Wednesday, the RJD on Monday offered 58 seats to the Congress against its demand of 80 seats.
The LJP has reportedly been offered 22-25 seats by the BJP, but the party’s state unit has finalised 143 probable candidates in case it contests alone.
Seat-sharing decisions in the NDA are on hold because the LJP is still undecided about quitting the alliance. A BJP source said: “LJP could get maximum 22-25 seats. It has to take a final call as our top leaders have almost had final talks on seat-sharing with JD(U). But there is no word on whether the BJP will contest equal number of seats as JD(U), or whether the latter will continue as senior partner in Bihar.”
LJP principal general secretary Abdul Khaliq told The Indian Express: “The party has authorised its national president Chirag Paswan to take a final decision in a day or two. We will all stand by the decision he takes.”
Asked about four of six LJP MPs reportedly being keen on staying in the NDA, Khaliq said: “These are canards. All legislators have authorised Chirag to take a decision.”
Meanwhile, posturing in the RJD-led Grand Alliance has given rise to the possibility of an RJD-Congress-Left-JMM alliance. RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari told The Indian Express: “We have made it clear to the Congress that the RJD can offer it 58 seats. We are also offering them Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat. We are waiting for their response.”
While the Congress has not reacted officially, a senior Congress leader said: “If Vikas-sheel Insaan Party (VIP) is not in Grand Alliance, we will get at least 75 seats. We are in final talks.”
RJD looks at revival, Cong keeps up pressure
The RJD has been quite clear on contesting a major chunk of seats in a bid to revive the party.. It believes that its alliance partners are often not able to transfer votes, so Tejashwi Yadav wants to contest maximum number of seats, preferably 140-150. The Congress, which has 27 seats, knows the RJD game but has kept the heat on the senior partner to extract 70-75 seats, which is seen as a respectable number.
Sources said that while they expect the RJD and Congress to come to an understanding quickly, there is a sticking point of 10-15 seats.
A senior Congress leader told The Indian Express that while there were some difficulties in “negotiations”, these were normal before elections. “Even the NDA alliance is not set, with the LJP undecided. So it is not worrying. We have a list of 75 seats that the Congress wants to contest,” the Congress leader said.
This number of 75 seats, however, leaves 168 seats in a 243-member Assembly for the RJD and other alliance partners, including Left parties. “The RJD has been saying it does not want to contest less than 140 seats. That leaves too little to keep the alliance members happy,” the leader said.
Three Left parties — CPI(ML), CPI and CPM — are likely to get 23 seats and JMM two seats, said RJD sources. “CPI(ML) could get 12-15 seats because of wider presence and three sitting MLAs,” said an RJD source.
In three previous elections, CPI(ML) had a higher vote percentage than the other two Left parties.
CPI(ML) leaders told The Indian Express that chances of an alliance looked bleak at this point. A senior leader said, “Our seat-sharing talks with the RJD remain infructuous. Nominations will begin soon, and we are preparing to file them from all our major seats without waiting for any possible progress, which seems rather bleak.”
The leader added, “There are three possibilities. One is a full alliance. The second is a part alliance, which can see some friendly fights. And the third is we fight alone, which we have been doing all along. The problem is they (RJD) do not want to give up most seats where we have our base. Moreover, for the first phase they offered only 4 to 5 seats. That is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) suffered a setback with its state president Bhudeo Choudhary joining the RJD. RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha has reportedly been trying to negotiate with the NDA.
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