"PM Modi Face Of NDA, But In Bihar...": Nitish Kumar's Party On 2019

Nitish Kumar's party JDU won only two seats in the 2014 general elections when the JDU and the BJP contested separately.

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'PM Modi Face Of NDA, But In Bihar...': Nitish Kumar's Party On 2019

Nitish Kumar last year dumped Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress over corruption allegations


PATNA:  Nitish Kumar's party Janata Dal United, or JDU, isn't retreating from the latest, and a very public back and forth with the BJP over who - Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - should be at the centre of the NDA's campaign in Bihar. The JDU today said PM Modi would obviously be the face of the NDA's campaign for the 2019 general elections in the country but in Bihar, it would seek votes on the basis of the Nitish Kumar government's performance.

"When it comes to seeking votes in Bihar, the performance of Nitish Kumar will play a decisive role in the electoral success of the coalition," Janata Dal United spokesman Ajay Alok said on Tuesday, underscoring that "the one who performs should get his due".

The debate on the face that would get the maximum votes for the NDA is seen as a pitch for a greater share of the tickets ahead of negotiations within the NDA to work out the seats that each alliance partner should get for the 2019 elections

It isn't expected to be an easy exercise.

Nitish Kumar's party had won only two seats in the 2014 elections when the JDU and the BJP contested the election separately. The NDA, in contrast, had cornered a whopping 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats; 22 by the BJP alone.

Nitish Kumar last year dumped Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress over corruption allegations, and revived the partnership with the BJP that he had ended in 2013. That decision had helped the BJP, which had lost the 2015 assembly election, come to power.

JDU leaders believe that the seat-sharing arrangement should match its share in the Bihar assembly, where it has about 70 legislators compared to the BJP's 50, rather than the 2014 Lok Sabha tally.

This means that the BJP, which won the biggest share of the Lok Sabha seats, would have to give up its claim on quite some seats to accommodate Nitish Kumar's JDU.

It could also squeeze the number of the seats left for other alliance partners to contest.

One of them is Lok Janshakti Party led by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

His son and lawmaker Chirag Paswan said there was no confusion in the ruling alliance on who is going to be the face of the coalition.

The next Lok Sabha polls will be contested under the leadership of PM Modi, he said and asked the NDA to take an early decision on the seat-sharing arrangement.

This is important when a coalition of different parties has to put up a fight, he said.

The NDA is meeting on Thursday to mark four years of MP Modi's government at the centre. Mr Kumar will speak for the first time on the performance of the BJP-led central government at this meeting.

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