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Bihar polls: BJP, Jitan Ram Manjhi clinch seat-sharing pact

New Delhi: In a late night development BJP and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi were learnt to have clinched a seat sharing agreement for the Bihar assembly polls with a HAM(S) leader claiming the
PTI September 14, 2015 7:55 IST
PTI

New Delhi: In a late night development BJP and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi were learnt to have clinched a seat sharing agreement for the Bihar assembly polls with a HAM(S) leader claiming the saffron party has agreed to allot about 20 seats to it.

Though there was no official confirmation about this from BJP, a party leader said, "All is well and a positive outcome is expected."

A seat sharing agreement was said to have been reached at a meeting BJP's incharge for Bihar assembly elections and Union Minister Ananth Kumar and party general secretary incharge of the state Bhupendra Yadav had with Hindustani Avam Morcha (secular) leader Manjhi at Bihar Niwas.

After the late night confabulation, a HAM(S) leader claimed under the arrangement worked out at the meeting the party would get to field about 20 candidates, while five others would contest on BJP's symbol.

Meanwhile, BJP's Central Election Committee is likely to meet on Tuesday to decide on its candidates for the elections.

Manjhi and his aides held a series of meetings with BJP leaders including Kumar, Yadav and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan through the day.

Manjhi's associates had on Saturday threatened to reconsider continuing in the alliance if a "respectable" offer was not made after BJP agreed to spare 13-15 seats for them.

BJP sources said a Central Election Committee meeting was likely to be held on September 15 as BJP is keen on announcing the names of its nominees at least for seats which go to polls in the first few phases.

The five-phase polling for the 243-member assembly begins from October 12 and concludes on November 5.

A final announcement on the seat sharing arrangement between BJP and its three allies-- Ram Vilas Paswan' LJP, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP and Manjhi's HAM(S)-- has been held up after Manjhi played hardball.

Though BJP has a strong Dalit ally in Paswan, it wants Manjhi on its side in the high-stakes state elections to bring in the Mahadalit votes.

BJP president Amit Shah, party sources said, cancelled his Mysore visit today to oversee the negotiations.

Manjhi was said to be unhappy after he was offered 13-15 seats by the BJP and sought to draw a parity with Paswan's LJP, which was tipped to get around 40 seats. Those privy to the talks said BJP wanted to contest around 160 of the state's 243 seats, leaving 25 for RLSP.

LJP and RLSP have agreed to the seat-sharing formula brought forth by BJP but a final announcement has been delayed due Manjhi's disagreement with it, sources said.

Manjhi had yesterday met Shah at the latter's residence twice.