With the Bihar Assembly elections less than three weeks away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended the BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting held at the party headquarters in Delhi on Saturday.
The meeting, chaired by BJP chief JP Nadda, was held to finalise the list of candidates for the elections. Bihar will go to polls in three phases — October 28, November 3 and November 7. Results will be declared on November 10.
The BJP will contest 110 seats in the 243-member Assembly after giving up 11 seats to the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). Its ally JD(U) has got 122 seats but will be contesting only 115, leaving the remaining seven for the Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is back in the NDA.
The LJP, with Chirag Paswan at its helm, has walked out of the NDA in Bihar and openly taken on Nitish Kumar, the NDA’s chief ministerial face. Paswan had, however, reiterated the LJP’s position that its winning MLAs will work “under the leadership” of PM Narendra Modi. The death of LJP patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan will cast a shadow on the crucial polls, and have a bearing on almost every political move by the key players. Now, with one pillar of that edifice gone, political leaders in Bihar say there could be consequences for the LJP.
Earlier this week, the BJP released its first list of 27 candidates for the election’s first phase in which 71 seats will go to polls. JD(U) had released a list of all 115 candidates.
The JD(U) and BJP were engaged in hard bargaining over seats with the former trying its best to remain the senior partner in the alliance. The JD(U), it is learnt, was pushing for the 2010 Assembly election formula when it contested 141 seats and the BJP contested 102 seats. The BJP, however, cited the 2019 Lok Sabha formula of contesting on an equal number of seats
Meanwhile, the RJD-led Opposition announced that the Tejashwi Yadav-led party will contest 144 seats while the Congress will fight on 70 seats. A total of three Left parties will fight from 29 constituencies: CPI(ML) from 19 seats, and the CPI and CPI(M) six and four seats, respectively.
In 2015 polls, JD(U) and RJD had contested elections together and formed the grand alliance government along with the Congress. The RJD had emerged as the single largest party with 80 seats, followed by JD(U) with 71, BJP with 53 and Congress with 27 seats, respectively. However, the JD(U) severed its ties with the RJD in 2017 amid the corruption charges against the latter and went on to form a government with the BJP.
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