The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dal gets meaty pie of seats in Bihar

New Delhi, Jan. 10: BJP today conceded senior partner's role in Bihar to the Janata Dal (United) allowing the latter to contest 138 seats in the state, leaving the remaining 105 for itself.

Nitish Kumar made the announcement in the presence of Arun Jaitley, Jagannath Mishra, Prabhunath Singh and K.C. Tyagi among others. The two parties put up a show of unity against the backdrop of a poster, which proclaimed, 'Fifteen saal, bura haal, sarkar badlo, Bihar badlega (15 years, terrible years/ change the government to change the state).

The alliance, Nitish explained, could not indefinitely wait for Ram Vilas Paswan to join them. The doors, however, were still open, he declared, should the Lok Janshakti Party chief change his mind.

Conceding the fight was 'tough', BJP sources counted three factors in their favour this time. The absence of Paswan in the RJD-Congress-Left Front alliance, they pointed out, meant a straight seven to eight per cent loss in their vote share. It was 44 per cent in the Lok Sabha poll, when LJP was in alliance with Congress and the RJD, against the BJP-Dal (U)'s, 37 per cent. The 7-8 per cent depletion has brought the two alliances on an equal numerical footing, they felt.

The 'mad scramble' among Yadavs for RJD nominations in Bihar has given rise to the perception that those who are denied would contest as rebels. Finally, the 'omission and commission' of the UPA government, the most important of these being price rise, would be a poll plank.

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