As seat-sharing talks among allies in the two rival camps in poll-bound Bihar take concrete shape, it is Lalu Prasad-led RJD which will take on BJP in saffron strongholds, while the latter’s allies are likely to be pitted against JD(U) in most seats.
Sources in JD(U)-RJD combine said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s outfit will contest those seats it had won last time when it fought in alliance with BJP. Though RJD is likely to contest about as many seats as JD(U), it will get seats where BJP had won.
JD(U) had clinched 112 seats in 2010 Assembly election, BJP 94 and RJD only 22. Lalu will thus have the difficult task on hand contesting seats it had lost last time, while JD(U) will battle to retain those already in its kitty.
NDA sources said BJP will field nominees in almost all seats it had won besides some more, leaving anywhere between 55 and 70 seats for its allies like Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP and its new partner and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Aawam Morcha.
Almost all the seats the saffron party will spare for its allies are those that had been won by JD(U) last time.
BJP sources said their development plank coupled with the argument that vote for Nitish-Lalu combine may see the return of ‘Jungle Raj’, a reference to alleged “misrule” of 15 years under the RJD boss and his wife Rabri Devi, will resonate more in seats where RJD candidates will be put up.
“Nitish Kumar is also talking about development and he has a certain record to back his claim… Lalu’s campaign will be mostly about his old secularism and social justice agenda which we have successfully countered earlier and can do again,” a BJP leader said.
The concern for BJP is, however, that Lalu’s core support base of Yadavs and Muslims is bigger and cohesive and has mostly stood by him even in the worst of times. Kumar’s base is relatively small but he believes his track record in governance will win him votes across communities.