BJP, JD-U differ over seat sharing in Bihar (Lead)

March 6th, 2009 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, March 6 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest 18 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, upsetting the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) which wanted the BJP to field candidates only in 14 constituencies.
“The BJP has decided to contest 18 seats, two more than in 2004,” party spokesman Vinod Narayan Jha told IANS.

The JD-U had announced Wednesday night that it would contest 26 seats, leaving 14 to the BJP. In the 2004 elections, the JD-U contested 24 seats and the BJP 16.

Jha wondered how the JD-U could decide that the BJP would contest only 14 seats. “Last month, the BJP had staked its claim to 21 seats including the 16 seats contested last time,” he said.

He said the party also plans to field a candidate in Muzaffarpur seat if JD-U leader George Fernandes does not contest from there.

Another BJP leader said it was unfortunate the JD-U was violating the alliance “dharma”. “But this time the BJP will not compromise. After all we are a national party with more at stake,” he said.

JD-U state president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said that his party would contest 26 seats in view of the “winnability” factor.

“We had already handed over a list of Lok Sabha constituencies to senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and are expecting a reply soon,” said Singh, who is considered close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

He said the party would name its candidates “in a day or two”.

“Last month the party had staked claim to contest 28 seats but later reduced it to 26 seats not to harm the interests of the ruling alliance,” another senior JD-U leader said.

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