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NDA allies eye extra RS seat

Patna, March 11: The problem of plenty is plaguing the NDA allies over the six Rajya Sabha seats up for grabs. The additional votes of the JD(U) and the BJP after independently selecting three and two candidates, respectively, can trigger a keen contest among the partners for an additional seat.

The BJP wants to be treated as an equal and be given three seats. But the JD(U), sources said, was eyeing four seats.

If the NDA allies reach a consensus for the sixth seat and the beleaguered Opposition does not field any candidate, polls slated for March 30 would be out of the equation. But if there is a seventh candidate in the fray, election would be inevitable.

The required strength for sending a candidate to Rajya Sabha is 35. The BJP has 91 MLAs and can send two members to the Upper house independently. But it will require the support of additional 14 MLAs for the third candidate.

The JD(U), on the other hand, has 118 MLAs. It will require 22 more votes for the fourth candidate after independently sending three to Delhi.

The BJP state committee appealed to the central leadership to contest in three seats in Rajya Sabha polls after a meeting today. But its demand for half of the seats has been met with silence from the JD(U).

“There has been no talks in the party about Rajya Sabha polls,” said the state JD(U) chief, Basishtha Narayan Singh.

“We are willing to give the BJP one more seat in the Bihar Legislative Council in lieu of a Rajya Sabha seat,” a senior JD(U) leader said, pointing out that 11 seats of the state legislative council was at stake and the NDA would win 10 of them.

The BJP state unit chief , C.P. Thakur, said: “We have authorised the core committee to prepare a list of Rajya Sabha candidates and send it to the party’s central parliamentary board.”

The BJP’s state panel will recommend half-a-dozen names to the central leadership. The list of probables would include Ravi Shankar Prasad, R.K. Sinha and Gopal Narayan Singh. The party sources said the central leadership might have its own candidates, including Arun Jaitley, who completes his second term from Gujarat and wants to shift, co-in-charge of the party’s Bihar affairs, Dharmendra Pradhan, and senior leader S.S. Ahluwalia. Ravi Shankar and Jaitley both have completed two terms — the maximum a BJP leader can get according to the party’s rule — in the Rajya Sabha. But insiders pointed out that they were likely to figure in the final list ignoring the party’s rule.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has held the names of his candidates close to his heart but speculation is rife that Basishtha Narayan Singh and a senior Delhi-based journalist would figure in his list.

The NDA leaders are tightlipped. “Ultimately Jaitley, Nitishji and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi will thrash out the matter,” said a JD(U) leader.