The BJP is likely to contest on at least 32 seats, while dividing the remaining among its allies in Bihar. This will be for the first time that the BJP will be contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar as the proverbial elder brother in a state where there are 40 Lok Sabha seats. This will also be the first time that the BJP will contest on more than 30 Lok Sabha seats in the state on its own.
In 2014, the BJP had contested 30 seats and won 22 of them. The rest 10 was divided between the erstwhile Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan which contested on 7 seats and 3 was given to Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha. The alliance won 31 seats.
In 2019, the BJP contested on 17 seats, while the remaining was contested by its allies: JDU (17), LJP (6). Of these, this combination won 39 seats. According to two senior party functionaries that are a part of Bihar’s campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will give four seats to the two factions of LJP and 2 seats to Upendra Kushwaha who has recently floated Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal. Of these two seats, one is likely to be contested by a BJP worker on Kushwaha’s party symbol.
One each will be given to Mukesh Shahni and Jitan Ram Manjhi who recently left the Opposition parties led Grand Alliance earlier this week. Apart from one Lok Sabha seat, Manjhi will also be given one Rajya Sabha nomination or the choice of being appointed as a Governor.
While the broad contours have been carved out, the BJP is facing some resistance from the Chirag Paswan led LJP which is demanding four seats for itself. But the party is confident of handling his demands while attributing the same to details related to LJP leaders that have been discovered in the past few years. Manjhi, Shahni, Kushwaha and Chirag Paswan are yet to formally join the BJP led NDA but it is being termed as a mere formality. The BJP, as this newspaper had pointed out earlier, is desperately looking for allies, both at the national and the state levels, to prepare itself for the general elections, which according to speculation, might be preponed by a few months.
In Bihar, the Grand Alliance, till last week, consisted of seven parties—the Janata Dal United, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, the three left parties and the Jitan Manjhi led Hindustani Avam Morcha (HAM). In the 2019 elections, the RJD had contested on 19, Congress on 9 and the HAM on 3 seats. The Left front in that election was not a part of the Grand Alliance and had contested on 7 seats. The JDU, which was a part of the NDA, had contested on 17 seats.
The BJP leadership is unlikely to reduce seats from its share to satisfy the demands of the regional outfits as any such move is likely to lead to a strong opposition from the local leaders who, for the first time, are going to fight on a substantial number of seats. Till now, it was the JDU which was in the elder brother role in the state.