The Janata Dal-United (JDU) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has demanded an equal number of seats from BJP in the 2019 elections. The JDU is also looking forward to settling the seat sharing issue related to 2020 Bihar Vidhan Sabha. In order to put forth a strong demand, Bihar CM and JDU president Nitish Kumar held a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi, that went on for about 30 minutes, to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
As per sources, the JDU is looking forward to taking the front seat in the 2019 elections. They wish to acquire one seat more than the BJP and if the plans does not go as planned then they will bargain to contest with equal number of seats leaving 5 and 3 seats for the alliance partners LJP and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party(RLSP) respectively. If the RLSP was to leave the alliance and join hands with the RJD then the 3 seats would be equally distributed among the alliance partners JDU, BJP and LJP. This comes in light of RSLP leader Upendra Kushwaha being given an open offer by Tejashwi Yadav from various platforms to join hands with the RJD
BJP had won 22 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In this case, BJP will have to concede at least 6 winning seats to the JDU. Earlier, when the BJP and JDU were in alliance till 2013, JDU used to contest 25 and BJP 15 out of the total 40 seats.
At the same time JDU has also proposed to settle the seat sharing for the 2020 Bihar Vidhan Sabha elections. As per sources, the JDU wants to contest at least 20 seats more than the BJP out of the 243 assembly seats. In the 2010 assembly elections JDU had contested on 142 seats whereas BJP had contested 101 seats. Sources told Republic TV that a meeting was held between Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar in a cordial atmosphere in the presence of Prashant Kishor and BJP Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav. Immediately after the meeting, Amit Shah met Arun Jaitely to brief him about the discussions between him and Nitish Kumar. Jaitely was the general secretary in-charge of Bihar BJP in 2005 when the seat-sharing was sealed. Sources added that the JDU wants to contest certain seats which the BJP is not willing to concede. Hence Nitish is said to have told Shah that Jaitely is aware about the ground realities of the JDU cadre. After that Nitish also held closed-door meetings with party leaders in Bihar Bhawan and briefed them about the meeting. Sources say that BJP is willing to concede 15 seats to JDU but the JDU has communicated that it wants to contest equal number of seats as BJP.
On July 16, in the recently-held state executive meet Nitish had announced that an agreement between the BJP and JDU has been sealed, but it looks like both the parties want to play the 'big brother' role, and also understand that they cannot contest elections on their own. In the 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections the BJP had to bite the dust with 53 seats and Nitish had also won merely 2 seats in Lok Sabha in 2014.
BJP top brass, as well as the state leadership, understands the importance of Nitish and his penetration among the OBC, backward and the Dalit votes. Hence they would not risk losing him at this juncture, at a time when allies have deserted the BJP.
Nitish Kumar is also keeping election strategist-turned-JDU neta Prashant Kishor on board for bargaining because of the latter's proximity with top BJP leaders including Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.