LJP to contest on 6 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, announcement on Saturday
New Delhi : After some hard bargaining by the Lok Janshakti Party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar is understood to have sealed a seat-sharing deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the BJP and the Janata Dal-United contesting an equal number of 17 seats each leaving the rest of the six seats to the party headed by Ram Vilas Paswan.
In a bid to retain the LJP in its fold, the BJP is also believed to have agreed to give a Rajya Sabha seat from its quota to the party. The seat-sharing arrangement is likely to be made public on Saturday in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan.
The LJP national spokesperson Sanjay Saraf told IANS, "It has been decided that our party would contest six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and get one Rajya Sabha berth."
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Arun Jaitley held discussions with Ramvilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan over seat sharing arrangements in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The discussion came a day after LJP leaders met BJP President Amit Shah and shared their concerns over the delay in holding talks over the seat sharing issue.
After the meeting with Jaitley, LJP Parliamentary Board Chairman Chirag Paswan expressed the hope that talks would move in the right direction.
"Talks are going on. An announcement will be made at an appropriate time. We have put our points before the BJP leadership and the important thing is that we are being heard. Hope everything will be fine," he told reporters.
His uncle, Ram Chandra Paswan, who also attended the meeting said that the LJP would remain part of the NDA.
"We are and will remain in the NDA. Seat sharing will be announced this week," Ram Chandra Paswan said.
"The party, which is having strongholds in any specific area, should be respected. We are a small party. We need adequate time for preparation. That's why we wanted the issue to be resolved at the earliest," he told reporters.
Sources in the BJP said a final arrangement of seats would be formalised after a meeting of the BJP and LJP leaders with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in Delhi.
A Bharatiya Janata Party leader also claimed that talks were going in the right direction and everything will be finalised soon.
In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested from 30 seats and won 22, while the LJP won six seats and lost one. The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), which is now a part of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar, bagged three.
In 2014, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) had contested on its own but performed poorly. It had won only two seats.
On Thursday, BJP leader and Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav first went to meet Chirag and Ram Vilas Paswan and the three leaders later went to the residence of Amit Shah. They were joined there by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The BJP and the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U had declared earlier that they would contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.