|Monday, January 24, 2000,
reaches pact on Bihar poll
NEW DELHI, Jan 23 After several days of negotiations and an official split between the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United), the BJP today successfully concluded a seat-sharing agreement with its partners for the forthcoming elections for 324 Assembly seats in Bihar.
It has been agreed that the BJP will contest 150 seats in Bihar, the Samata 90 and the Janata Dal (United) 64. The Bihar Peoples Party led by Mr Anand Mohan will contest 20 seats.
Both the BJP and the Samata, which had initially talked of contesting 174 seats and 96 seats, respectively, and leaving only 42 seats for the JD (U) based on the 1999 Lok Sabha poll performance, made a climbdown from their earlier positions in a bid to accommodate the JD (U).
The JD (U) which had been insisting on being treated on a par with the Samata, too, diluted its stand and settled for 64 seats.
The agreement came after two meetings held for over five hours and chaired by Union Home Minister L.K.Advani. It was attended, among others, by the Samata Party President, Ms Jaya Jaitley, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Janata Dal (U) President Sharad Yadav, Communications Minister Ram Bilas Paswan and BPP President Anand Mohan.
Mr Advani, who was to go to Gujarat for the inauguration of a port, cancelled his visit to remain in the Capital to sort out the issue.
Todays agreement among the NDA partners puts at rest the uncertainty over the election scenario in Bihar. Tomorrow is the last day for filing nomination papers for the first phase of polling in 108 Assembly seats on February 12.
The NDA partners managed to sort out their differences after the Samata Party, the JD (U) and the BJP at a meeting this morning authorised Mr Advani to decide about the number of seats each party would contest in Bihar. It was also agreed that Mr Advanis decision would be binding on all three constituents.
Mr Advani, who called another meeting of the NDA partners in the afternoon, told mediapersons that it had been decided that the four parties would contest the Assembly elections on a common manifesto and from a joint platform.
He said details of the constituency-wise distribution of seats would be discussed among the four parties and finalised soon.
Leaders of the Samata Party, the JD (U) and the BPP were present when Mr Advani made the announcement.
The Home Minister also indicated that the differences over who should be the next Chief Minister had been put in the backburner. We are not projecting anyone for the Chief Ministers post even though every party has its own candidate for the post. We want to fight the elections unitedly to end the jungle raj in the state, he said.
Mr Advani clarified that there was no bar on central ministers aspiring for the post. The BJP had earlier held that no Union Minister should aspire for chief ministership. This in effect would have barred the main contenders for the post Union Ministers, Nitish Kumar and Ram Bilas Paswan.
On the criteria followed for the distribution of seats, Mr Advani said though no criteria had been adopted for the distribution of seats, it was agreed that whatever decision was taken at the meeting, all parties would abide by it.
Mr George Fernandes, who recently stepped down as the President of the Samata Party after the Election Commission derecognised him as an office-bearer of the party as he had contested the elections under the JD (U) symbol, said todays decision was acceptable to all the parties.
The JD (U) President, Mr Sharad Yadav, also confirmed his party had given Mr Advani the authority to take a decision.
I have no words to express my gratitude to the leaders of all parties for agreeing to abide by the decision of the meeting, Mr Advani said.
The talks had been bogged down mainly because of the seats demanded by the Samata and JD(U) which had hampered the BJP from announcing its list of candidates.
Samata President Jaya Jaitley had met BJP President Kushabhau Thakre as also Mr Fernandes and sought the partys assistance in resolving this vexed issue.
Mr Kailashpati Mishra and Mr K. N. Govindacharya were principle negotiators on behalf of the BJP before the party decided to seek Mr Advanis intervention to sort out the issue.
The seat sharing talks witnessed a lot of mud-slinging between the JD(U) and the Samata Party, each accusing the other of dividing anti-Laloo votes by remaining adamant on the number of seats.
While the JD(U) claimed
that it was a larger force to reckon with in Bihar having
a larger social base, the Samata asserted
that its claim to more seats was legitimate in view of
its performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
weighing other options
NEW DELHI, Jan 23 Having overcome the Bihar imbroglio involving the sharing of seats with the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United), the BJP is keeping its fingers crossed on its alliance with the INLD in Haryana and the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa.
There has been no breakthrough in the deadlock between the INLD and the BJP on sharing of seats in Haryana as the party headed by Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala insists on a larger share of seats, more than what the BJP says was agreed upon between the two before the dissolution of the Haryana Assembly.
In Orissa too, the BJP has run into trouble with the BJD as the latter wants to be the dominant partner in the state and see the BJD chief, Mr Naveen Patnaik, as the next Chief Minister.
According to BJP sources, the INLD before dissolving the Assembly had agreed that the BJP would contest 35 seats and the INLD 55. However, after the elections were declared, the party seems to have had second thoughts. It wants the BJP to settle for even less at 25 seats.
With three more days left for nominations to open for the Haryana Assembly elections, the BJP hopes that the INLD would finally abide by its earlier commitment.
The INLD has called a meeting of its office-bearers on January 25 in Rohtak to discuss its tie-up with the BJP. The BJP on its part has fixed the meeting of its central election committee on January 27 and says that the list of candidates for the Haryana elections would be finalised then.
While publicly the BJP maintains that talks with the INLD are on and it hopes to arrive at some solution, senior leaders involved in the talks say they are not sure if Mr Chautala will agree.
Preparing for the worst scenario, where Mr Chautala decides to go on his own, the party leadership has indicated that in that event it would be considering other alliances.
In this regard a tie-up with the BSP is being hinted at. Though the BSP is not an established party in the state, it has the potential to influence a sizeable section of the electorate in every Assembly segment.
According to the BJP General Secretary, Mr Narendra Modi, who is in charge of the partys Haryana unit, the BJPs claim for 35 seats in Haryana is based on its performance in the 1996 Assembly elections. While the INLD won 22 seats out of the 90 seats it contested in the elections, the BJP won 11 seats out of the 25 it sought.
The winning percentage of the INLD was 24 and that of the BJP 44. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was ahead having polled 30 per cent votes while the INLD managed 27 per cent votes.
Asked whether the BJP was considering other alliances in the event of the two parting ways, Mr Modi said: At the appropriate time, I will tell you.
He said seat sharing between the two parties had been arrived at after several rounds of talks and the aim of the alliance was to ensure the defeat of the Congress. In Orissa the BJP seems to be in trouble as the BJD insists that it would project its own Chief Minister in Mr Naveen Patnaik.
This would be possible only when the BJD has a larger share of seats in the Assembly elections.
The Union Steel Minister
and senior BJD leader, Mr Dilip Ray, has said competence
and the ability to win should be given consideration
while sharing seats among constituents of the NDA.
According to the BJD, its candidates stand to win in at
least 122 seats.
PATNA, Jan 23 (PTI) The RJD President, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, will contest the coming Assembly poll from Danapur seat in Bihar.
His name figured in the first list of 100 candidates released by RJD national spokesman Shivanand Tiwari at a press conference here.
Mr Laloo Prasad had successfully contested the Danapur and Raghopur seats in the 1995 assembly poll but later resigned from Danapur.
The RJD chief was defeated by JD(U) President Sharad Yadav from Madhepura in the last Lok Sabha poll.
Mr Tiwari said the party had denied ticket to eight sitting MLAs, including four ministers, while changing the constituencies of four members.
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