- BJP and JD(U) to contest equal number of seats in Bihar in 2019 elections
- Opposition says BJP agreed to such a deal amid pressure from allies
- This happens when the government is weak, said Sachin Pilot
After RLSP's (Rashtriya Lok Samta Party) exit from the BJP-led NDA and the ruling party at the centre agreeing to contest an equal number of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar as its ally JD(U), the opposition is dubbing the developments as the BJP's struggle for survival.
When Upendra Kushwaha, the chief of RLSP, walked out of the alliance, he had accused the BJP of "arrogance" over its seat-sharing deal. Rajasthan's deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot also blamed what he described as the arrogance of BJP leaders for the party's tricky relationship with its allies.
In Bihar, the BJP and Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United have agreed to fight from 17 seats each, while Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) will contest six in the next year's national election.
The announcement was made by BJP's national chief Amit Shah within days of Mr Paswan's son Chirag Paswan warning the party of "consequences" if the seat sharing was not finalised, triggering speculation that the LJP could be on its way out of the alliance.
Soon after the announcement, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: "In spite of having 22 parliamentarians in Bihar, the BJP is only contesting 17 seats and Nitish-ji, who has 2 MPs, will also fight 17 seats. Now you can understand in what condition the NDA is in".
Mr Pilot agreed the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar confirms that the BJP is under immense pressure.
"Upendra Kushwaha has quit the NDA, the TDP has already left and the Shiv Sena is also not with them. Now the BJP is under pressure and therefore, they gave 17 seats in Bihar to the JD(U) which has only two MPs. What can be a fine example of insecurity than this," he said.
Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had pulled out of the NDA in March over the centre's refusal to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh. The Shiv Sena has been the most critical ally of the BJP, which keeps attacking the party over a host of issues. The party even passed a unanimous resolution in January that it would not partner the BJP in next year's general elections or the state assembly elections.
"This full majority government at the centre has become so weak that it has given nearly half of Bihar (Lok Sabha seats) to a party having just two MPs just because of the fear that people are not voting for the BJP and also its allies are daring them. This happens when the government is weak," Sachin Pilot told news agency PTI.
The BJP had suffered a huge setback in the state elections, losing the heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the Congress and failing to make headway in Telangana or Mizoram.
BJP leaders used to point fingers at the Congress saying that the party was struggling for its survival, but results of the recently held assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have sent out a strong message, Mr Pilot said.
The senior Congress leader, who is also the state unit chief in Rajasthan, also said that the victory of the Congress has boosted the morale of party workers and they have started preparing for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"We have formed the government and along with delivering on our promises, we are focusing on the upcoming elections. Meetings in the party have already started. The party will register a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls and the Congress will form the government at the Centre," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)