NDA's seat-sharing formula for Bihar polls

BJP finally announced the seat sharing formula for Bihar elections and it came after much wrangling and negotiations between the alliance partners. BJP shall contest 160 seats while the alliance partners shall collectively fight 83 seats. The break-up for seat sharing gives Ram Vilas Paswan- led LJP the maximum of 40 seats, while Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP gets 23 seats and Jitan Manjhi-led HAM ended up with 20 seats.

The final agreement however did not come easy. Jitan Manjhi was reportedly very unhappy to be allocated the lowest share of seats, while some media reports suggested that Ram Vilas Paswan too was unhappy with his share. But Amit Shah was unrelenting, knowing fully well that he was in a position to dictate and that the alliance partners had little choice but to comply. To placate Jitan Manjhi, Amit Shah announced that he would allow Jitan Manjhi to nominate 4-5 candidates of his choice who would fight on a BJP ticket. Smart move. Amit Shah has killed two birds with one stone. He has won over Manjhi while ensuring that his nominees will always serve BJP’s bidding as they would have won on a BJP ticket. He has bought peace, at least for now. The situation amongst alliance partners was certainly tenuous in the run up to the final announcement and can be gauged by the fact that Amit Shah had to cancel his outstation trip in order to resolve the seat sharing row.

Reading in between the lines

The seat sharing formula reveals several interesting facts. First, the ego battle between Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Manjhi has been settled on who truly represents the Dalit and Mahadalit vote, at least in the eyes of BJP. The BJP high command clearly places its bet on Ram Vilas Paswan to deliver the maximum Dalit votes. What is most telling is that BJP has allocated more seats to RLSP than HAM, thereby sending a clear signal to Jitan Manjhi of his position in the alliance. What this also means is that Jitan Manjhi has been relegated to the by-lines where he has little choice but remain a fringe player. If he manages to win a higher percentage of votes than Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, then he will be able to command some say with the BJP in later times but if he underperforms, he will certainly end HAM’s hopes to emerge as a party of significance in Bihar politics.

Another sad reflection of ground reality is that LJP shall be contesting 40 seats, the same as Congress, a national party that has earlier run the government in Bihar but is now relegated to being a side show.

The seat sharing also consolidates BJP’s confidence in striking a simple majority on its own strength and cross the two-thirds mark with alliance partners. The fact that ABVP, its student’s wing, has delivered a clean sweep in Delhi University polls would certainly have added to Amit Shah’s confidence, after hitting the wall in Delhi Assembly polls. The official seat sharing also brightens Sushil Modi’s chances to be nominated as the next CM, if BJP and its alliance comes to power.

Politician in focus: Sanjay Saraogi, BJP (Born 28 August 1969)

Sanjay Saraogi was born in Darbhanga to a middle class businessman. He completed his schooling from Raj High School, Darbhanga, and passed his MBA from LNMU. He got interested in politics during his college years and joined ABVP where he honed his skills as a leader. He began at the grass roots level and was elected as a Ward Councillor in Darbangha. In February 2005, he was elected as MLA from the Darbangha constituency, which he won with a comfortable margin. He was again elected in November 2005 and in 2010, he defeated RJD’s Sultan Ahmad by 27,554 votes. He continues to remain BJP’s face in Darbhanga.

Constituency in focus: Motihari

Motihari is the headquarters of East Champaran district. Located 165 kms northeast of Patna and 55 kms from Raxual near the Indo Nepal border, the town has historical importance as it was at the heart of Mahatma Gandhi’s protest against Indigo plantation. Motihari has been home to several well-known personalities which includes the famous English Author, George Orwell, and the famous Hindi poet-cum-freedom fighter, Ramesh Chandra Jha.

As per 2011 Census, Motihari has a population of 125,183, of which 67,438 are males and 57,745 are females. The average literacy is 87.20%.

2010 Assembly Election Results

• 2010 Assembly election winner: Pramod Kumar, BJP
• Margin of win: 24,530
• Percentage of total votes: 20.09%
• Runner-up: Rajesh Gupta alias Bablu Gupta, RJD
• Number of male candidates: 19 ; Number of female candidates: 0
• Total male Voters: 67,004
• Total female voters: 55,093
• Total votes polled: 122,099
• Polling %: 55.74
• Number of polling stations: 222

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