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BJP, JD-U rift over George contesting Muzaffarpur

March 27, 2004 17:28 IST

A rift has broken out between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal-Unity over the latter party's president, George Fernandes, contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Muzaffarpur instead of Nalanda, his constituency in the last Lok Sabha. Fernandes is the convener of the National Democratic Alliance that includes both the BJP and the JD-U.

 

The decision may pave the way for 'friendly fight' in some constituencies between the two NDA allies if Captain Jai Narayan Nishad, earlier tipped to be the BJP nominee for

Muzaffarpur, is not accommodated by the JD-U.

 

Taking strong exception to the JD-U's unilateral decision to field Fernandes from Muzaffarpur, the BJP Bihar unit chief, Gopal Narayan Singh, urged the party's central leadership to ask the JD-U to allot a suitable constituency from its share of seats to Nishad, a member of the dissolved Lok Sabha from Muzaffarpur.

 

Nishad had recently switched over to the saffron party on the promise that it would nominate him from Muzaffarpur, the seat he has represented thrice. Singh said he had also urged the central leadership to allow the Bihar unit to field its nominees from some more seats apart from the 16 for which the party had already declared its candidates if the JD-U failed to accommodate Nishad.

 

Though the BJP had maintained that it would support Fernandes' candidature from any parliamentary constituency in Bihar, it had also made it clear that Nishad too should be given a suitable constituency, Singh said.

 

Singh said the BJP state unit intended to go in for friendly contests with the JD-U by putting up its candidates in Begusarai, Bikramganj, Balia, and Aurangabad if Nishad was not accommodated.

 

For Fernandes, Muzaffarpur is an old hunting ground as he has represented the constituency four times and, according to JD-U sources, the change was made to pave the path for Railway Minister Nitish Kumar to contest from Nalanda, a safer Kurmi-dominated seat than Barh, which he won by just around 1,300 votes in 1999.

 

Fernandes, on the other hand, said he decided to shift from Nalanda to Muzaffarpur in view of popular demand from the rank and file of the party. JD-U insiders said Kumar would contest from both Barh and Nalanda and would file nomination for Nalanda on March 29 and Barh on March 31.

 

According to sources, it was decided that Kumar should contest from both the seats as in the event of a senior JD-U candidate from Bihar was defeat, the seat that Kumar would vacate would be passed on to the defeated candidate.

 

Alliance between the two NDA allies has also run into rough weather with the JD-U planning to field its candidates in some of the constituencies in Jharkhand.

 

More reports from Bihar


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