NDA allies in Bihar go into bargain mode

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BJP president Amit Shah’s announcement on Friday that the Janata Dal(U) and his party would contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the Lok Sabha election has sent the NDA’s other two allies from the State, the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), into bargain mode.

Sources in the LJP said its leader, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, had been sounded out about the new seat adjustment, where his party was likely to get four or five seats, down from the seven it contested in 2014. Mr. Paswan has found a way to make up for the possible shortfall in parliamentary presence in 2019, by asking to be sent to the Rajya Sabha instead, a person close to him said on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Paswan is reportedly anxious to effect a generational change in the party and wants to hand over his Lok Sabha constituency to his son Chirag Paswan.

“Out of the six MPs from the LJP, two are likely to shift to the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress; therefore, four seats is what the LJP can claim,” said a Bihar BJP leader, who did not wish to be named.

The RLSP’s situation is slightly complicated. While the party led by Upendra Kushwaha had won all three seats it contested in 2014, one of its MPs, Arun Kumar, has since turned a dissident and reportedly approached the BJP for ticket. This makes Mr. Kushwaha’s claims for more space a little weak and is perhaps the reason he was having talks with RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav at the time of Mr. Shah’s announcement. He is expected to meet Mr. Shah on Monday.

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