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NDA seat-sharing final, BJP to contest 160, LJP 40, Manjhi 20


New Delhi:  NDA today finalised its seat sharing for Bihar polls with BJP getting to contest 160 out of 243 assembly constituencies while allies LJP and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM have been alloted 40 and 20 seats respectively.

Announcing the decision after days of hectic parleys, BJP chief Amit Shah, who was flanked by other key leaders of the alliance like LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Manjhi, said that Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP will contest on 23 seats and stressed that there is “no tug of war” among the four NDA constituents over the seat sharing agreement for the next month’s polls.

Shah also chose the occasion to appeal to workers of all the four NDA allies to fight the elections together     to ensure a resounding victory for the alliance against the Nitish Kumar led JD(U)-RJD-Congress coalition.

Manji, who is former Bihar Chief Minister and leader of Hindustani Awaam Morcha (Secular), was apparently unhappy earlier after he was offered 15 seats.

The BJP chief today said the issue of Chief Ministership will be decided by the NDA MLAs after the polls and asserted that there are no differences among the constituents.

“On the one side is a coalition of compulsion. On the other side is an alliance with a common chemistry and similar ideologies,” Shah claimed.

Asking people of Bihar to give a chance to the NDA, Shah also reminded that Bihar was the cradle of anti-Congressism and urged the electorate to take forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “Congress-mukta Bharat”.

Shah launched a hard hitting attack on the grand coalition of JDU-RJD and Congress saying divisions have already started appearing in it with the leader of Janata Parivar Mulayam Singh Yadav walking out of the alliance.

Expressing confidence that the NDA will come to power in the key state, Shah accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of “backstabbing” the BJP by breaking the 17-year-long alliance in 2013 and castigated him for aligning with Congress and RJD.

“He (Nitish) is promising to give a corruption-free Bihar by aligning with Congress, which was involved in scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore. He is also promising to provide a crime- free Bihar while aligning with RJD’s Lalu Prasad, whose tenure was known for ‘jungle raj’,” Shah said at the press conference.

Among those present were Kushwaha and other BJP leaders from the state including Sushil Kumar Modi.

Noting that the people of Bihar have given a chance to all three parties Congress, RJD and JD(U) to rule the state, Shah said, “We appeal to people of Bihar to give one chance to NDA” and promised to realise the dream of the state’s development if BJP is voted to power.

The BJP chief rejected suggestions of any “ill-treatment” to Manjhi. Manjhi kept the BJP on tenterhooks for days but the two sides clinched the seat sharing agreement last night at a meeting BJP’s incharge for Bihar assembly elections and Union minister Ananth Kumar and party general secretary incharge of the state Bhupendra Yadav had with Manjhi at Bihar Niwas.

After the late night confabulation, a HAM(S) leader had claimed that under the arrangement worked out at the meeting the party would get to field about 20 candidates, while five others would contest on BJP’s symbol.

Earlier, a miffed Manjhi is understood to have sought parity with Paswan’s LJP. Manjhi’s associates had on Saturday threatened to reconsider continuing in the alliance if a “respectable” offer was not made after BJP agreed to spare 13-15 seats for them. The HAM leader had met Shah at the latter’s residence twice on Saturday. The five-phase polling for the 243-member assembly begins from October 12 and concludes on November 5.

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