The BJP today urged its senior alliance partner in Bihar, the JD(U), to reconsider the decision not to contest upcoming by-polls in the state scheduled next month.
Voting would be held on March 11 for bypolls in Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jahanabad along with Bhabhua assembly segments which have fallen vacant upon the death of the incumbents. The NDA is yet to announce its candidate for any of these.
“We would urge Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is the national president of JD(U), to reconsider the decision taken last week and take part in the by-polls”, senior BJP leader and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters here.
The JD(U) had, last week, announced that it would not contest any of the three seats and Kumar had defended the decision saying none of the seats were held by the party.
Sushil Modi was responding to a query about state BJP president Nityanand Rai having told reporters in Delhi that he wished the JD(U) to contest the upcoming by-polls in Bihar.
When asked to comment on the development, JD(U) spokesman and MLC Neeraj Kumar said “the decision to stay away from the by-polls was announced by our state president Bashishtha Narain Singh. Any change in the decision will be communicated by him”.
Though leaders of neither party clarified as to which of the three seats they wanted the JD(U) to contest, sources in the BJP said it wanted to field candidates in Araria and Bhabhua and leave Jahanabad for JD(U).
The sources claimed that the party wanted to give Rinky Rani Pandey the ticket from Bhabhua, which has fallen vacant upon the death of her husband Anand Bhushan Pandey, hoping to cash in on the sympathy wave.
The seat will be contested by the Congress, an ally of the main opposition RJD, though the party is yet to announce its candidate.
The BJP sources also claimed that in Araria the party wanted to field Pradeep Singh, who had lost to RJD’s Mohhamad Taslimuddin in the 2014 general elections by about 1.5 lakh votes.
The JD(U) had finished third in the seat and with a newly revived alliance, the BJP is hopeful of wresting the seat from the RJD, which has fielded Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam.
In Jahanabad, the RJD has fielded deceased MLA Mundrika Yadav’s son Suday Yadav. Recently, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had demanded that his HAM, an NDA ally, be allowed to contest the seat. However, he yesterday said that his party would not insist on fighting the seat.
From the NDA’s side, the RLSP headed by Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha had contested the seat in the 2015 assembly polls and finished the runner-up.
In 2010, the seat was won by the JD(U) but the party gave up its claim in 2015 in favour of its then ally, the RJD.
Notifications for the by-polls in all the three seats were issued on February 13. The last date for filing of papers is February 20.