Under pressure from ally Nitish Kumar to settle the thorny issue of seat sharing in Bihar in next year's general elections, the BJP has come up with a first draft of the plan, giving itself a lion's share of the state's 40 seats. But a deal appears a long way off, with Nitish Kumar's leaders hinting that the BJP needs to get back to the drawing board.
Sources in the BJP said that 20 seats would go to the party, which, along with allies, holds 31 seats; 12 will go to Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, six will go to Ram Vilas Paswan and two to Upendra Kushwaha.
Leaders of the JD(U) insisted the sharing was neither fair nor "honourable".
"Even BJP knows it is not acceptable," said a leader, adding that ideally, there should be equitable distribution between the two parties. Each should get 17 seats, and Ram Vilas Paswan, the leader said, should get the remaining six.
Upendra Kushwaha, he indicated, need not be factored in, since by all indications, he is on his way out of the alliance. With his recipe of kheer -- milk from the Yadavs and rice from the agrarian Kushwahas -- the Union minister has triggered buzz that he might change partners.
Leaders of the BJP indicate the seat sharing formula is by no means final. "Nothing has been finalised, once it is, you will come to know," said senior BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav.
In 2014, the BJP had won 22 seats and the NDA 31. The JD(U), fresh from a break-up with the BJP after a 17-year alliance, won only two seats. While Nitish Kumar went on to partner with the Congress and Lalu Yadav's party and won the state elections in 2015, he was back in the BJP fold barely 20 months later.
But sharing of the state's 40 seats has been a contentious issue and in July, BJP chief Amit Shah flew down to Patna to test the waters. When the BJP missed the August 12 deadline to settle the issue, the JD(U) issued a reminder. Party leader KC Tyagi said given JD(U)'s resources constraints, it would need clarity on the issue to "contest wholeheartedly".
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