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Bihar shadow on state poll equations

Ranchi, March 19: Even after eight years, Bihar is still inadvertently guiding political equations in Jharkhand.

It is for this reason that neither the NDA nor the UPA has been able to work out a final seat formula in the state though the process of filing nomination is set to begin from March 23.

The UPA faltered over seat-sharing arrangements in Bihar as both Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan dumped the Congress to put up their own candidates in 37 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats. As if taking a cue, the alliance virtually split in Jharkhand, with the Congress striking a seven-five deal with the JMM, leaving Lalu Prasad’s RJD a paltry two seats. Insiders, however, believe that the equation could change, if the RJD and the LJP decide to leave a seat each in Bihar. Congress wants the Munger seat from the RJD and either Nalanda or Muzaffarpur from the LJP.

“If the RJD and the LJP agree, the Congress may leave Koderma to the RJD,” said a party insider.

Chances of accommodating the LJP are remote though Lalu is harping on an alliance with Paswan in Jharkhand too.

The story in the NDA camp is no different. The JD(U), a major NDA partner, has not yet cleared the air over the state unit’s demand for a “respectable” deal including three seats — Chatra, Palamau and Dhanbad. The BJP is ready to concede just one — Palamau.

“The JD(U) has already received one extra seat in Bihar and we can concede one more in Jharkhand. They will gain two extra seats,” said senior BJP leader Arjun Munda. The JD(U) has received 25 seats in Bihar, one more than 2004.

According to sources, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar rebuffed Jharkhand JD(U) leaders, including state chief Jaleshwar Mahto, for seeking six seats. Instead, he asked them to bargain for two seats — Palamau and Chatra — in neighbouring Jharkhand.

Nitish Kumar, addressing a news meet in Patna today, said the NDA seat-sharing formula in Jharkhand would be declared tomorrow. BJP’s Jharkhand president Raghubar Das, however, pointed out that the issue of pending seats was not going to be discussed at the central election committee meeting. “Rajnath Singh has been authorised to declare the candidates after consulting JD(U) leaders,” he said.

Even in undivided Bihar, leaders from north Bihar called the shots, pushing those from south (now Jharkhand) to the back seat.

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