The Janata Dal-United wants the results of the 2015 Bihar assembly polls, in which it had fared much better than the Bharatiya Janata Party, to be a key factor while deciding how many seats each of the four NDA parties in the state will get to contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Though the demand of the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party is unlikely to be met with any enthusiasm by the BJP or two of its other allies -- the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party and the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party – JD-U leaders claim that the assembly polls were the latest show of strength in the state and the outcome of it could not be ignored while distributing seats for the general election.
Formal talks over a seat-sharing formula among the National Democratic Alliance constituents are yet to begin and JD-U leaders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the BJP should take the lead to ensure that it was done quickly to avoid any serious differences near the polls.
In the assembly election, the JD-U had won 71 of the 243 seats, while the BJP had emerged victorious in 53 seats and the LJP and RLSP in two each.
The JD-U was then an ally of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, before it dumped them last year to rejoin the NDA.
A BJP leader described the JD-U’s argument as “unrealistic” and the “usual political tactics” deployed by different parties ahead of elections.
He claimed that the JD-U had benefited in the 2015 polls due to its alliance with the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and the real strength of the Nitish Kumar-led party could be gauged from its 2014 Lok Sabha poll performance, when it had fought alone and won only two of the 40 seats, while its candidates lost their deposit in a majority of seats.
In the 2014 polls, the BJP had won 22 seats with the LJP and the RLSP winning six and three seats respectively.
When the JD-U was a BJP ally till 2013, it was the undisputed senior coalition partner in the state and would contest more number of Lok Sabha as well as assembly seats. In Lok Sabha polls, the JD-U would field candidates in 25 seats and the BJP 15.
However, the BJP’s sweep in 2014 has changed the equation and the entry of more parties into the NDA means old equations are no longer relevant.
With talks among the NDA constituents yet to begin, the JD-U has been playing hardball. Its leaders recently kept away from the Yoga Day celebrations and the party has said it will fight assembly elections in states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which are scheduled later this year.
The party has also called a meeting of its national executive in Delhi next month to spell out its stand on a host of issues.