The BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC), which decides who gets to fight the polls and from which constituency, concluded its meeting late on Sunday after finalising names for almost all candidates for the first phase of the Bihar Assembly elections on the seats over which ally JD-U has not staked its claim.
The list, which is said to have over 50 names, is expected to be announced on Monday.
The CEC meeting, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party President J.P. Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, among others, also deliberated upon names and weighed in strengths and weaknesses of probables list sent by the state unit for the second phase.
While the BJP may announce a bulk of names for Phase 1 and even some for Phase 2 on Monday, sources say it will leave out a few constituencies that are slated to go for polls on the first phase on October 28, given the Janata Dal-United’s claim to them.
There have been negotiations going on for at least a dozen such seats across Bihar which the BJP won in 2015 but the JD-U wants to contest this time around.
There will be another round of meetings between the BJP’s central and state leaders at 9 a.m. on Monday, say sources.
The hurry in the CEC meeting came as the last date for filing nominations for the first phase, involving 71 out of the total 243 constituencies, is October 8. There has been growing pressure on BJP’s central unit from probable candidates to make the announcement as fast as possible.
The marathon day started with BJP’s core committee meeting, followed by a shock as LJP’s Parliamentary Board decided to go solo in the Assembly election, and finally the BJP going into a huddle at its party headquarters for the CEC meeting.
Sources suggest an agreement was immediately reached with the JD-U on seat sharing after the LJP dropped out of the alliance in the state. While one senior Bihar BJP functionary claimed that Nitish Kumar’s JD-U will be fighting on 124 seats and the BJP 119, another source in Delhi hints at an agreement of 50-50 seat sharing where the JD-U will be given a symbolic extra seat.
However, no official confirmation of either arrangement has been made public so far by the BJP or the JD-U.
A few seats are said to still remain a bone of contention but the BJP hopes to reach an agreement in next 24-48 hours.
Earlier, the JD-U and BJP were looking for 105-110 seats each. But with the LJP gone, its demand for 42 seats, which sources say dipped to 35 eventually, is also gone. The JD-U will be accommodating Jitan Ram Majhi’s HAM (Secular) on its own account.
Sources also said that ace shooter Shreyashi Singh who joined the BJP on Sunday is likely to be fielded from either Jamui or Amarpur Assembly constituency.