|Monday, January 31, 2000,
NDA allies agree on seat sharing
NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (UNI, PTI) The five-day-old seat sharing crisis between the Samata Party, Janata Dal (United) and Bihar Peoples Party (BPP) came to an end today with the allies deciding to leave the Saharsa seat to the BPP.Talking to newspersons, Defence Minister and Samata Party leader George Fernandes expressed confidence that with the Saharsa seat going to the BPP, Mr Anand Mohan would help put up a united fight to end the jungle raj in Bihar.
Mr Fernandes did not attend the joint press conference addressed by the three constituents of the NDA to announce their coming to an agreement on seat sharing. Mr Anand Mohan also did not turn up for the press conference.
The press conference was attended by JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, BJP Vice-President Kailashpati Mishra, Samata Party President Jaya Jaitly and Minister of State for Railways Digvijay Singh(JD-U).
The three constituents released a list of candidates agreed upon.
Mr Mishra said the common manifesto would be released by February 3. The campaign to be launched from February 1 would be carried out jointly.
The BJP leader expressed happiness over the NDA constituents having agreed to field one candidate each for the 324 seats for the Bihar Assembly. He thanked Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav who worked for bringing about unity among the constituents.
Mr Yadav endorsed the views expressed by Mr Mishra, who had hoped the BPP would join the anti-Laloo alliance.
Ms Jaitly said the NDA constituents had reached their first goal by agreeing to fight together through seat-sharing and putting up a united fight.
The leaders made it clear that no one was being projected as the future Chief Minister. As far as Bihar is concerned, there is no such formula. It will be decided after the poll results are out, Mr Mishra said.
Replying to another questions, Ms Jaitly said those who had already filed nominations for the first phase of the assembly elections in Bihar would be asked to either withdraw from the race or retire. In spite of that, if any one tried to contest the official candidates of any constituents, the party concerned would make public announcement that the person in the field was a rebel candidate.
She said the Samata list of candidates would be announced only after the last date of withdrawal to avoid any confusion among the constituents.
The parleys among the four constituents of the NDA continued till 5 p.m. today.
Mr Fernandes said the Saharsa seat allocation for the BPP was taken after Mr Anand Mohan had left the venue.
When asked to comment on the BPP leaders assertion that he was unhappy with the decision (leaving 20 seats for the BPP), Mr Mishra and Mr Yadav said every thing will be settled down by the time we all proceed to Bihar tomorrow.
Mr Anand Mohan had not signed the joint statement containing the seat-sharing document. Mr Mishra, Ms Jaitly and Mr Yadav were the signatories.
As per the document, the BJPs share in the 324-seat assembly is 150, the Samata gets 90 seats, the JD(U) 64 and the BPP 20.
Meanwhile, BPP chief Anand Mohan Singh conveyed his displeasure to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee about the manner in which the NDA constituents in Bihar had finalised the seat-sharing formula for the assembly elections.
He said JD (U) leader and Communications Minister Ramvilas Paswan and BJP Vice-President Kailashpati Mishra had called on him at his house this morning to get his signature on the list finalised after the marathon meeting which ended early this morning.
I refused put my signature on those papers as the document had betrayed the promise made during the meeting. It did not fulfil the promise to increase the number of seats for my party from 20 to 24, which was agreed upon during the parleys, he said.
The Samata and the JD(U) even did not entertain his claim of seats where the BPP was strong, he complained.
Asked if he was going to quit the NDA, he said he had not decided any thing so far. However, he made it amply clear that he would join the NDA bandwagon in Bihar to put up a united fight against the RJD only if my claims are entertained and the quota of seats increased (to 24).
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