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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightBihar polls: NDA,...

Bihar polls: NDA, Manjhi's party reach seat-sharing agreement

Bihar polls: NDA, Manjhis party reach seat-sharing agreement

New Delhi: The BJP and Jitan Ram Manjhi have finally reached a seat-sharing agreement for the Bihar assembly elections with the former chief minister party's being allotted 20 seats.

"All is well and a positive outcome is expected," PTI quoted a senior BJP leader as saying on Sunday after the talks with Manjhi's Hindustani Avam Morcha (Secular) party in Delhi.

The seat sharing agreement was said to have been reached at a meeting the Bharatiya Janata Party's in-charge for Bihar elections and Union minister Ananth Kumar and party general secretary in-charge of the state Bhupendra Yadav had with Manjhi in Bihar Niwas.

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

BJP president Amit Shah, party sources said, cancelled his Mysore visit on Sunday to oversee the negotiations. Manjhi met Shah at the latter's residence twice on Sunday.

Manjhi and his aides also held a series of meetings with BJP leaders including Kumar, Yadav and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan throughout the day.

On Saturday, Manjhi's associates had threatened to reconsider continuing in the alliance if a "respectable" offer was not made after the BJP agreed to spare 13-15 seats for them.

A final announcement on the seat sharing arrangement between BJP and its three allies - Ram Vilas Paswan' Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and Manjhi's HAM(S) - was held up after Manjhi played hardball.

The LJP and RLSP have already agreed to the seat-sharing formula brought forth by the BJP.

Though the BJP has a strong Dalit ally in Paswan, it wants Manjhi on its side in the high-stakes state elections to bring in the Mahadalit votes.

Manjhi was said to be unhappy after he was offered 13-15 seats by the BJP and sought to draw a parity with Paswan's LJP, which was tipped to get around 40 seats.
Those privy to the talks said the BJP wanted to contest around 160 of the state's 243 seats, leaving 25 for RLSP.

BJP sources said its Central Election Committee is likely to meet on Tuesday as the party is keen to announce the names of its nominees at least for the seats which go to polls in the first few phases.

The five-phase polling for the 243-member assembly begins from October 12 and concludes on November 5.

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