The BJP has conveyed to its Bihar allies its desire to contest 160 seats based on the rationale that the NDA was fighting the election with PM Narendra Modi as its face. Party sources claimed that the allies had in-principle agreed to the BJP’s demand. “The BJP wants to contest around 160 seats because we should be in a position to win majority on our own. We have conveyed this to our allies and they are convinced,” said a BJP leader. “The election is being fought in Narendra Modi’s name. The BJP has the highest stake in it. We have explained this to the allies and they are aware of it,” said a party source.
Earlier, BJP’s partners — LJP, RLSP and HAM-S — had openly expressed their anger over the delay in announcing the seat-sharing formula. Although a meeting was held between BJP chief Amit Shah and the allies on August 31, no decision on seat sharing was taken. Shah reportedly told all allies to focus on winning instead of bickering over seats. But despite the warning from Shah, former CM and HAM-S leader Jitan Ram Majhi Thursday said he was not ready to accept anything less 13 seats for his party. BJP leaders, however, said recent developments including PM’s Bihar package and Samajwadi Party’s decision to quit the Grand Alliance had made the party’s position stronger, even among its allies. The BJP is also counting on the factor of disappointed ticket seekers in JD(U) and RJD working in its favour. While JD-U contested in 141 seats (and won 115) during the last Assembly election, the RJD had fielded candidates in 168 seats and won 22. However, both parties have agreed to contest 100 seats each in the forthcoming election. “There will be rebels all across the state. So the BJP, which contested only 102 seats last time will have an advantage as it will be contesting more seats now. This factor will help the party in at least 50-70 seats,” said a party leader.