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BJP begins seat-sharing talks in 7 states

A Correspondent in New Delhi | December 24, 2008 19:41 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party began seat-sharing negotiations with its National Democratic Alliance allies in seven states so that it can finalise its candidates soon.

Three senior leaders have been empowered to conduct the negotiations: M Venkaiah Naidu in Maharashtra, Assam and Orissa, Arun Jaitley in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh [Images] and Sushma Swaraj in Punjab and Haryana.

The BJP already has alliances in Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa and Punjab, the last three where it shares power as a junior ally, while talks are in an advanced stage with regional parties in Assam, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad brushed aside speculation that tension is building up between the BJP and Janata Dal-United in Bihar. Aijaz Ali, a confidant of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who recently got into the Rajya Sabha, has demanded that his party split with the BJP.

"We do not comment on solo players. He has come to the JD-U only recently while acting chairman of the NDA is the JD-U president and that shows our relationship," Prasad quipped when asked to comment on Aijaz Ali's outburst on Tuesday.

Announcing the names of the leaders who will negotiate with the allies, he said an early completion of the exercise was necessary to identify the seats they would contest.

The party resumes selection of candidates from January 8. It had earlier named about two dozen candidates, including prime ministerial candidate L K Advani [Images] from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Rajnath Singh from Gaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

The selection process conducted by the Central Election Committee will, however, gain pace only after the Nagpur session that includes a day's meeting of the national executive on January 23 and a two-day national council meeting thereafter.

Prasad said the meeting also decided to hold a month-long felicitation of young voters at the Lok Sabha constituency level from January 15 to February 16. Five to 10 young party workers from each polling booth in the constituency will be invited to the felicitation, he said.






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