The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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George runs to Advani for seats

New Delhi, March 19: On the eve of its poll campaign, the seat-sharing trouble for the Janata Dal (United) is not yet over, not even in Bihar where it had swung a deal with the BJP on Monday.

With the NDA big brother playing tough, the Dal (U)’s parliamentary board today failed to finalise about 42 candidates in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Rajasthan and Lakshadweep.

Dal (U) chief George Fernandes today rushed to Nagpur to seek deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s intervention in getting hold of Muzaffarpur and Sheohar in Bihar.

The indication on Monday was that Fernandes would shift from Nalanda to Muzaffarpur and his party colleague Nitish Kumar from Barh to Nalanda. But the BJP’s Jai Narain Nishad, who has won the seat since 1991, is unwilling to shift in Fernandes’ favour.

Although the BJP has left its candidate for Muzaffarpur unannounced — as also for Siwan — Fernandes and Nitish are unable to decide whether to stick to Nalanda and Barh.

Nitish had won Barh in 1999 by a slender 1,300-vote margin, that too when Ram Vilas Paswan was with the NDA. Now with Paswan switching to the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress camp, Nitish will be deprived of the sizeable chunk of Dalit votes.

But he cannot shift to Nalanda unless Fernandes, who won the seat three times, can move to another constituency.

Saying Fernandes will take up the matter with Advani, Dal (U) spokesperson Shiv Kumar emphasised that “our effort will be to contest the polls unitedly under the NDA banner”. Asked if Fernandes will shift to Muzaffarpur, Shiv Kumar said there was no decision to this effect so far.

The other contentious seat in Bihar is Sheohar, which the Dal (U) had apparently agreed to give up to accommodate Anwarul Haq, a former RJD leader who recently joined the BJP.

The big brother wants to repeat Haq, who had defeated the Dal (U)’s Anand Mohan in 1999, but the Dal (U) insists Sheohar is part of its quota.

According to Dal (U) sources, Nitish and party colleague Sharad Yadav are sending feelers to RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav to bail them out.

Sharad had thought of changing his Madhepura constituency following reports that Laloo Prasad may contest from there. But sources said the RJD chief might contest from Chhapra, so Sharad need not shift.

According to the Dal (U) spokesperson, “Karnataka is our main problem”, where the party has threatened to contest 10 Lok Sabha and 95 Assembly seats.

Although the BJP had rejected the Dal (U) stand, efforts are said to be on to make the party reconsider its decision.

In Jharkhand, the Dal (U) is insisting on Koderma, held by the BJP, though Shiv Kumar said the state posed no seat-sharing problem as the matter was “almost resolved”.

The party will kick off its poll campaign tomorrow from Aonla in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. The southern campaign will start on Sunday with a rally in Salem, Tamil Nadu.

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