- Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) to contest 50 seats
- All Jharkhand Students Union also wants to contest more seats
- BJP negotiating with Jharkhand allies on seat-sharing, say sources
Before the dust settles in Maharashtra where the BJP's longtime ally Shiv Sena didn't agree to form government with it, the BJP in Jharkhand is also facing pressure from its allies AJSU and LJP on agreeing to a seat-sharing formula for the assembly election to be held in five phases from November 30.
Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which contested only one seat in 2014 and lost, will go solo on 50 seats this time, much higher than the six seats it initially asked the BJP it would like to contest - Jarmundi, Nala, Hussainabad, Barkagaon, Latehar and Panki.
"The Lok Janshakti Party has decided it will contest 50 seats alone. The first list of party candidates will be announced this evening," Mr Paswan tweeted.
However, it's the BJP's other ally, the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), that is likely to present a bigger hurdle in seat-sharing talks as the AJSU has a larger support base - it won five of eight seats that it contested in 2014 - than the LJP or Janata Dal United.
The AJSU has fielded a candidate on Chakradharpur assembly seat, for which the BJP has named its state chief Laxman Gilua. This situation has led the two parties that fought the last election in 2014 together to return to the negotiation table for the upcoming battle for the state's 81 seats.
The AJSU asked for 19 seats to contest in Jharkhand, but the BJP is willing to give not more than nine seats, sources said. The AJSU has already announced candidates for 12 seats, four of which overlap with BJP candidates in Simaria, Sindri, Mandu and Chakradharpur.
Adding to the BJP's perceived difficulties in planning for the election in Jharkhand is the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)'s announcement that it would fight alone on 50 seats. In 2014, Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP was given one seat to contest, which it lost. His son Chirag Paswan is now heading the party.
The BJP has put on hold its second list of candidate after releasing the first list of 52 names on Sunday, sources said, adding the party is negotiating hard with AJSU for a formula that is acceptable to both.
"There is no NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in Jharkhand now. Due to issues in coordination the BJP, LJP and JDU will fight separately. Despite being a bigger party, the BJP has never reached out for talks," JDU principal secretary KC Tyagi told NDTV.
Chief Minister Raghubar Das of the BJP will contest from Jamshedpur.
In the last state election, the BJP contested on 72 seats, AJSU eight seats and LJP one seat. The BJP took home 37 seats and AJSU five, but LJP scored a duck.
The Congress will contest on 31 seats, its ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on 43 seats and the rest has gone to jailed leader Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Former chief minister and JMM chief Hemant Soren is leading the campaign for the alliance.
In 2014, the JMM took 19 seats, the Congress only six from the 62 it contested and the RJD drew a blank.