Friday, January 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Chances of joint fight in Bihar dim

NEW DELHI, Jan 27 (PTI) — Prospects of a united fight against the ruling RJD in Bihar dimmed with the BJP and its two major allies Samata Party and Janata Dal (United), failing to reach a seat sharing agreement for the first phase of the Assembly elections on February 12.

With the deadline for withdrawals for the first phase ending this evening, they were set to contest against each other on a number of seats, though they claimed that differences had decreased.

“Discussions with friendly parties are on and the differences have narrowed down considerably. We are still confident that efforts by all parties will succeed,” BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu told mediapersons here.

After several rounds of talks among the NDA allies — BJP, Samata Party, JD(U) and Bihar People’s Party (BPP) — to identify the constituencies, the parties were unable to reach an agreement.

Sources said the Samata Party made a fresh claim to 25 more seats after an agreement was arrived at following mediation by Home Minister L.K. Advani on Sunday last.

Under the seat sharing agreement hammered out by Mr Advani, the BJP was to contest 150 seats, the Samata Party 90, the JD(U) 64 and the BPP 20.

A meeting of BJP leaders late last night at the residence of Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha failed to evolve a formula acceptable to other allies, the sources said.

Spokesman of the JD(U), Mr M. Raghupathi said the BJP and its allies had reached an understanding on 208 of the 324 seats in the state and talks were on to resolve differences on the remaining 116 seats.

He said though the JD(U) had fielded 32 candidates for the first phase, it could ask some of them to retire in favour of other NDA partners for the sake of unity against the ruling RJD.

“From our side there is no intransigence and we are keen on saving the alliance (NDA),” he said but accused the Samata Party of not cooperating in the talks by staking claim to seats held by the JD(U).

Mr Raghupathi said the party had adopted a rigid stand on certain constituencies causing much delay in finalisation of the seats to be contested by the NDA partners.

Reacting to the charge, Samata Party President Jaya Jaitly said: “We, too, can level the same allegation against the JD(U) but we don’t indulge in mud-slinging as we have to work together.”

She said the Samata Party had fielded 45 candidates for the first phase. Some of them had either withdrawn or would retire later.

Mr Jaitly said that BJP as the ‘big brother’ should have worked out the seat identification formula well in time to resolve the matter.


BJD rejects formula

NEW DELHI, Jan 27 (PTI) — Leaders of the BJD today declined to accept a seat sharing formula with the BJP mooted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan and left for Bhubaneswar for wider consultation with partymen.

Differences seemed to have widened as BJD president Naveen Patnaik, who met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last night to seek a larger share of seats for his party than suggested by Mr Mahajan, and his colleagues made a sudden departure, BJD sources said.

“We made it clear during two rounds of talks with Mahajanji that the BJD is keen to contest about 100 of the 147 Assembly seats,” party Secretary General Prasanna Acharya told mediapersons before leaving.

He said the BJP, which had adopted a flexible approach with its allies in other states, was being “rigid” while dealing with the BJD.

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