The opposition 'Mahagathbandhan' in Bihar on Friday announced its seat-sharing formula for the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, half of which will be fought by Lalu Prasad's RJD and nine by the Congress.
Former JD(U) president and NDA convener Sharad Yadav will contest on the RJD symbol and merge his party Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) with it after the Lok Sabha polls, RJD national spokesman Manoj Jha and RJD state president Ram Chandra Purve told newsmen.
Recent entrants to the 'Grand Alliance' - Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Mukesh Sahni's Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) will field their candidates in five and three seats, respectively, they said.
Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) has been given three seats.
The RJD leaders made the announcement in the presence of representatives from all alliance partners, including Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Madan Mohan Jha.
Top leaders like Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Kushwaha (RLSP), Sharad Yadav and Manjhi were conspicuous by their absence though.
As per the analysis of the seat sharing formula, the RJD, which wanted to contest 20, had to part with one seat from its quota to the CPI(ML) Liberation, while the Congress, which had reportedly bargained hard for 11 seats, had to settle for nine with the assurance of a Rajya Sabha berth.
Among other constituents, the HAM, which claimed to have a "stronger support base than even of the Congress" and had insisted on more seats than at least the RLSP, had to settle for only three. The RLSP, which had walked out of the NDA following an offer of only two seats, was allotted five.
The biggest gainer was, surprisingly, the fledgling Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), which was floated by former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni less than six months ago. It got three seats to contest from which is equal to that of the HAM.
Candidates were also announced for the four Lok Sabha seats that will go to polls in the first phase. Filing of nominations for these seats will end on March 25 and votes will be cast on April 11.
These candidates include Manjhi himself, who will be contesting from Gaya, and RLSP state president Bhudeo Chaudhary from Jamui which is currently held by LJP's Chirag Paswan.
The other prominent candidates in the list are HAM's Upendra Prasad from Aurangabad and RJD's Vibha Devi, whose husband Raj Vallabh Yadav was recently disqualified from the assembly following conviction in a rape case, from Nawada.
The RJD leaders also announced that the Nawada assembly seat will be contested by Dhirendra Singh Munna of the HAM.
The Dehri assembly seat, where by-election has been necessitated by RJD's Mohd Iliyas Hussain losing the seat on account of conviction in the bitumen scam, has gone to his son Mohd Firoz Husain.
By-polls to the two assembly seats will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar where it will be held in seven phases.
When reporters approached Sharad Yadav outside Rabri Devi's residence, where parleys had taken place for several hours before the announcements, he affirmed that he will be fighting on an RJD ticket and merge the LJD, which he had founded after falling out with Nitish Kumar, with the RJD.
The RJD leaders also announced that the party would give one seat to CPI(ML) Liberation from its quota but did not specify the constituency.
The Congress, they said, will get the first Rajya Sabha seat from the Mahagathbandhan whenever elections are held for the upper house.
The seat sharing announcement evoked angry outbursts at Sadaqat Ashram, the Congress headquarters in Bihar, as supporters of former Aurangabad MP, Nikhil Kumar, raised angry slogans in protest against the seat going to the HAM.
The agitators alleged that the seat was "sold" by Jha and AICC in-charge for the state, Shaktisinh Gohil.
The Aurangabad seat, known as 'mini Chittorgarh' by virtue of the strong presence of the Rajput caste in the area, has been a bastion for Nikhil Kumar's family.
His father Satyendra Narayan Singh had represented the seat many times before becoming the state chief minister for a brief period.
Shyama Singh, the late wife of Nikhil Kumar, who is a former Delhi Police chief, had also represented the seat.
The NDA has been winning the seat since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.