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BJP-JD(U) face-off over seat sharing: Nitish Kumar in no position to bargain hard
Upping the ante against the BJP, which is demanding lion's share of the 40 Parliamentary seats for the upcoming 2019 general election, JD(U) general secretary Sanjay Singh, on Monday, said that the BJP was free to fight the elections alone in Bihar if it did not need an ally.

But the question is whether the JD(U) is in an advantageous position to press for a hard bargain?

The BJP had won 22 seats in the 2014 general election while its allies had finished with 9 seats (LJP 6 and RLSP 3). Thus, the BJP is in no mood to offer more than 9 seats to the JD(U).

The JD(U) has been saying that Nitish Kumar is the face of Bihar. No one is objecting to it. But does Nitish Kumar and his party the JD(U) has a decisive voter base? The answer is no. The JD(U) has a vote share of around 16 per cent in Bihar; the BJP around 30 per cent while Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has a vote share of around 20 per cent. So if Nitish decides to go solo his party is expected to end up with the least number of seats, most probably finishing only above the Congress.

BJP's ally the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has around 7 per cent vote share whereas the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) has a vote share of around 3 per cent, which means that NDA alone has a vote share of around 40 per cent. In case the NDA goes without the JD(U), it is likely to retain its seats.

However, Nitish has another option of returning to the mahagathbandhan. In that case, if we add the vote shares, then the NDA may lose significantly. But there's a catch. If Nitish returns to the mahagathbandhan, his reputation will take a severe dent, as he would be seen as an opportunist.

Furthermore, the ground workers of both the JD(U) and the RJD will see each other with suspicion. The JD(U)-RJD chemistry might have worked during the 2015 Bihar Assembly election but it is highly unlikely that the mahagathbandhan will be able to stand against Narendra Modi in 2019. Also, both the RJD and the Congress will always remain wary of Nitish suspecting that he might join the NDA again.

Another factor here is that Narendra Modi is a national leader and the face of today's India. In fact, many of the supporters of Nitish Kumar who want to see him as the CM of Bihar support Narendra Modi for Prime Minister. So no matter how lucrative JDU's return to the mahagthabandhan may appear but it would only spell disaster for the JD(U).

It makes better political sense for Nitish Kumar to remain in NDA's fold. In fact, he shouldn't have left the BJP-led alliance in the first place ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Had he remained with the NDA, his party would have been an influential player in the present political scenario and this whole unnecessary tussle over sharing of seats would have never arisen. But the way he forged an alliance with the RJD after giving cold shoulder to the BJP and later dumped the RJD to return back to the NDA, Nitish lost a lot of credibility.

As things stand now, the BJP is unlikely to offer more than 9 seats to the JD(U). The only option that remains with with the JD(U) is to accept BJP's offer and bargain for a larger share in the 2020 Bihar Assembly election.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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