New Delhi: With the next general elections just a year away, the BJP ally JD(U), visibly shaken by its recent defeats in the bypolls in Bihar, and other allies of the NDA are tightening noose around the BJP and demanding more importance in seat-sharing, creating ripples in state politics.
JD(U) stated after its core committee meeting in Patna on Sunday that Nitish Kumar is the biggest leader in the NDA in Bihar and the BJP should respect ground factors.
"We have not had formal talks. Our expectation is that the BJP, which is largest party in NDA will deal with its ally in a manner of mutual respect and understanding of certain factors verifiable on the ground", said JD(U) spokesperson Pavan Varma after the meeting.
However, the BJP leadership in the state sought to make light of it saying that there is no contradiction between the stand of the saffron party and JD(U).
"In Bihar votes will be polled on the basis of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name and Nitish Kumar's work and there is not contradiction in this, said deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
In Bihar, the BJP has 22 MPs and the JD(U) has just two. In the 2014 general elections, the two parties contested against each other. In 2009, when the two parties were part of the NDA, the BJP contested in 15 seats and JD(U) in 25 seats, out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. But the JD(U) quit the Mahagadbandhan and joined the BJP in August 2017.
The NDA has two more allies in Bihar. Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Jana Shakti Parti which has six MPs in Lok Sabha and Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party which has three MPs.
According to BJP sources, the JD(U) is pitching in early on seat-sharing as their current position is weak.
"The JD(U) lost two recently held assembly bypolls. It is true that they have 70 MLAs and we have 50 MLAs. But we are the national party and have won 22 seats out of 29 seats we contested in 2014. So, naturally BJP deserves more seats. They are trying to "catch the early worm", a BJP leader said.
However, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, who recently targeted the BJP for its defeat in Jokihat assembly bypolls and said that they should respect the allies, on Sunday said that Nitish Kumar is the biggest leader of the Bihar alliance.
"Nitish Kumar won many elections. That is why NDA in Bihar is working under his guidance and will continue to do so. Currently, there are no talks on seat sharing. Nitish Kumar will lead the alliance in the 2019 general elections," Mr Tyagi said.
Echoing the sentiment, Mr Varma also said that "when elections approach there will be discussion between coalition partners. In Bihar, JDU is the senior partner and Nitish Kumar is the Chief Minister of the state".
According to JD(U) sources, the NDA partners in Bihar are meeting on June 7 to discuss seat sharing issues In the wake of poor performance by the BJP in the bypolls in Rajasthan, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and in Bihar, its allies have begun criticising the BJP's attitude towards its allies.
Some reports indicate that Mr Kushwaha is in touch with the RJD. According to political observers, seat sharing among NDA partners will prove to be a tough job this time. (UNI)