The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 11 , 2014
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Left seat-share teaser for Nitish

Patna, Feb. 10: The CPI and the CPM have staked claim on at least nine Lok Sabha seats in the state, engaging the JD(U) in a “hard bargain” on a day Nitish Kumar iterated his support to the Left-sponsored campaign for a non-Congress and non-BJP front.

“We have asked for six Lok Sabha seats — Begusarai, Khagaria, East Champaran, Madhubani, Banka and Gaya. We have represented these seats in the Lok Sabha several times,” state CPI secretary Rajendra Prasad told The Telegraph.

Apart from these six seats, the CPI — arguably the main Left party in the state — has given a separate list of three more seats — West Champaran, Buxar and Jehanabad — as an option to Nitish to make “adjustments” in the event of any problem in parting with the seats mentioned in the first list.

The CPM, too, has asked for three Lok Sabha seats from the JD(U). They are Ujiarpur, Darbhanga and West Champaran.

Nitish for the first time today attended an informal meeting with CPM’s Prakash Karat and CPI’s A.B. Bardhan at the residence of JD(S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda in New Delhi for the formation of the third force. “But the actual route for forging a fresh front will pass through the Bihar’s battlefield. We shall like the JD(U) to be realistically accommodative to the Left in the context of sharing seats if it is genuinely interested in the formation of a broader non-BJP and non-Congress front at the national-level,” said a senior CPI leader.

The JD(U), effectively, has about 15 seats it had to given to the BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls to share with the like-minded partners. But the CPI has staked its claim at least on three seats on which the JD(U) already has its sitting MPs. These seats include Begusarai, Khagaria and Jehanabad.

Begusarai, represented by the JD(U)’s Muslim MP Monazir Hasan, is on the top of the CPI’s list primarily because the constituency was till the recently known as the “Leningrad of Bihar” for its dominance. The CPI has represented Ballia (four of its Assembly segments now merged in Begusarai after delimitation) five times in the Lok Sabha.

Nitish might find it hard to convince Monazir to vacate the seat for the CPI at a time when he is trying hard to woo the Muslims.

Khagaria, represented by the JD(U)’s Dineshchand Yadav, is another tricky seat claimed by the CPI.

The JD(U) leader and convict in the Taufik diara massacre case, Ranvir Yadav, today staked claim on the seat for his second wife and JD(U) MLA Krishna Devi.

The JD(U), however, can part with the Banka seat and give it to the CPI because the party heavyweight and former Rajya Sabha MP, N.K. Singh has rejected the offer to contest it against its sitting MP Putul Kumari Singh, who has switched over to the BJP.

Nitish should not have much trouble in parting with the East Champaran and Madhubani seats.

They were in the BJP’s share since 1996 and the JD(U) is not believed to have its well-oiled organisational structure in place there.

Nitish has time and again said that if at all his party forged an alliance it would be with the CPI. But he has, so far, shied away from specifically talking about the number of seats his party would share with it.