INDIA Bloc Attempts Coup In Bihar, Makes 8-Seat Offer To BJP Ally: Sources

The NDA had won 39 out of 40 seats in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

New Delhi:

As the seat-sharing tussle within the NDA over Bihar continues, the INDIA alliance has made a move on the political chessboard and offered eight Lok Sabha seats in the state and two in Uttar Pradesh to Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) chief Chirag Paswan, sources have told NDTV. 

The proposal may prove to be tempting to Mr Paswan, who is reportedly being offered only six Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar by the NDA and even those come with a caveat – the seats will have to be split with his uncle and Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party chief Pashupati Paras, who he is not on the best terms with. 

The INDIA alliance offer, on the other hand, includes all six seats that the undivided Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) had contested in 2019, and a deal sweetener in the form of two additional constituencies in Bihar and two in Uttar Pradesh, the sources said. 

The Lok Janshakti Party had split in 2021, following a coup by Mr Paras a year after the death of party chief and veteran leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

Mr Paswan was the brother of Mr Paras and father of Chirag Paswan. After Mr Paras was given a cabinet berth by the BJP-led NDA, Chirag Paswan had attacked the Janata Dal United and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He had, however, refrained from targeting the BJP and PM Narendra Modi – whom he had earlier called his Ram and said he was his Hanuman.

Having quit the NDA in 2020 over differences with Mr Kumar, Chirag Paswan had rejoined the alliance last year, when the Bihar chief minister was a part of the Mahagathbandhan, which includes the Lalu Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. Tensions have reportedly been bubbling under the surface ever since the JDU chief returned to the NDA earlier this year. 

There are also differences between Mr Paswan and Mr Paras over the latter’s Hajipur Lok Sabha constituency. While Mr Paras is the sitting MP from the seat, Mr Paswan has sought to stake claim to it because it was his late father’s former constituency and his “karmabhoomi”.

Seat Division

The BJP and the JDU had fought 17 Lok Sabha seats each in Bihar in 2019 and the six remaining constituencies had been contested by the LJP. The BJP and the LJP had won all the seats they had contested and the JDU had fallen short only in Kishanganj, which it had lost to the Congress. 

The bigger partners in the NDA are reportedly keen on repeating the same arrangement, leaving Mr Paras and Mr Paswan’s party to work out an understanding over the six seats the LJP had contested the last time.

For the Bihar Mahagathbandhan, however, 17 seats – which would have otherwise gone to the JDU – have been opened up. This has left them the room to manoeuvre and try and rope in Mr Paswan’s party.

If the move does work out, it will be a boost to the INDIA alliance, which has faced trouble in finalising seat-sharing in several states, including West Bengal and Punjab. Bihar, with its 40 seats, sends the fourth-highest number of MPs to the Lok Sabha and the INDIA alliance is fancying its chances of giving pause to the NDA juggernaut after the 39-1 rout it had faced its chances.

The blow to the NDA and the JDU could also act as a salve for the INDIA bloc, which is still smarting from Mr Kumar’s fresh volte-face in January. 


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