Nitish not ready to accept less than 16 LS seats, all set for tough bargaining

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Patna, Jan 6 (IANS) After the fourth meeting of the INDIA bloc, its alliance partners in Bihar are making hard bargains with each other before Lok Sabha election 2024.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has almost accepted his stand of not contesting less than 16 seats in Bihar which is a clear indication that the alliance partners have differences with each other and everyone is trying to get the upper hand in the final negotiations.

Sanjay Kumar Jha, water resource minister of Bihar and a trusted associate of Nitish Kumar, on Friday stated that his party will not contest less than 16 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

“We have16 MPs of the Lok Sabha and there is no question of contesting less than 16 seats in Bihar,” he said.

His statement came a day after RJD leader and deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav met Nitish Kumar at the latter ‘s official residence in Patna. It is a clear signal that Nitish Kumar is ready for some hard bargaining with the RJD in Bihar. The JD-U leaders always raise the point to make Nitish Kumar the convener of the alliance and the PM face of the Opposition INDIA bloc.

“I want to clarify that the party will not open a dialogue with the Congress and the Left parties. He (Nitish) said that the Congress and the Left parties will finalize their seats with the RJD and then we will discuss the final formula with them,” Jha said, adding that the JD-U will go for more seats not less.

The firm stand of the JD-U will make it tough for the RJD and other alliance partners of the INDIA bloc as Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats and if the JD-U bargains for one or two seats more, it leaves only 22 to 23 seats for the RJD, Congress, CPI, CPM and CPI-ML.

If the JD-U will contest on 16 or more seats, the RJD has to contest on the same number of seats to claim that its political status in Bihar is similar to the JD-U.

The main bargaining strength of the JD-U is its position in Bihar. NItish Kumar or any other leader of the JD-U may not speak about it on a public platform but its option to go with the BJP-led NDA is always there.

In the recent past during the national executive committee meeting in New Delhi the then national president Lalan Singh had resigned from the post and Nitish Kumar was elected the national president. On that occasion too Nitish Kumar did not make any strong statement against the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The soft approach towards the BJP gives Nitish Kumar a better chance to bargain hard with the alliance partners as the latter believe that if Kumar executes his ‘Paltimar’ programme again, the INDIA bloc will not have any chance to win the Lok Sabha election.

After Nitish Kumar separated from the NDA in August 2022, he and other leaders of the JD-U always said that they need to reduce only 40 seats of the NDA to bring the Narendra Modi government below the majority figure of 272. Hence, Bihar is crucial for the INDIA bloc to challenge Narendra Modi and the BJP in the general election.

The intentions of the JD-U can also be understood through the statement of JD-U MLC Neeraj Kumar, who said that his party will do politics by sitting on the partners’ chest. However he clarified that his relations with all the alliance partners are good.

“The JD-U is a party of only 45 MLAs. Still, the politics of Bihar revolve around our party and this is happening only due to our political brain and smartness. No one will conspire against us. They know our style of politics. We do politics by sitting on the chest. The opposition alliance started from Bihar and we have only one ambition — to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha election,” Kumar said.

“Our leader Nitish Kumar never claimed any post of convener or PM face of the INDIA bloc. It is a conspiracy of the opposition parties like the BJP to raise this point again and again to create confusion in the minds of the common people,” Kumar said.

The meeting between Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish Kumar gave an opportunity to the opposition leaders to train their guns at the INDIA bloc leaders.

Meanwhile, Union minister Giriraj Singh took a dig at the INDIA bloc leaders and said: “Nitish Kumar is not pleased with Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav. Until and unless, Nitish Kumar gets the post of convener, he will not be satisfied.”

“Tejashwi Yadav went to the residence of Nitish Kumar to pacify him as he (Nitish Kumar) is upset, Tejashwi had to go to the darbar (court)) of Kumar and sing a song — “Ruthe Chacha Ko Manau Kaise,” (How can I pacify my angry uncle) Giriraj Singh said.



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