The BJP which wanted to make this announcement last week itself was unable to do so as some of the allies, particularly Jitan Ram Manjhi was unhappy with what he was offered.
Initially, the BJP had offered him just 13 seats, but he was hell bent upon contesting in at least 20.
Manjhi repeatedly told the BJP he is confident of winning a majority of these seats and hence should be given at least 20. However, the BJP which had tried convince Manjhi to settle for 18 seats finally gave in to his demand of 20.
The BJP could not brush Manjhi away and does realize that he is a big player in Bihar. There were various factors that the BJP took into consideration before it decided to give into Manjhi's demand of 20 seats.
When the elections are fought in Bihar, the BJP expects that Manjhi will give them the required edge. Manjhi holds the key to at least 13 per cent of the Dalit vote share and this is a big number which the BJP cannot ignore.
He may be able to pull a majority of the Dalit voters on his side and this will be a very important number for the BJP in the long run.
Another factor that may work in Manjhi's favour is the kind of noises he had made when Nitish Kumar shunted him out of the Chief Minister's seat.
He had gone public with the statement that he was being shunted out only because he was a Dalit. This may have worked well for him in certain circles and hence the BJP would want to capitalize on it too.
BJP did not want to give away too much:
While the allies were seeking a fair share of the seats to contest, the BJP also wanted to ensure that it could win the election on its own. The BJP had initially proposed that it wanted to contest in 170 seats.
However, the BJP had to reduce this number to 160 in order to accommodate the allies. At no point in time did the BJP want to concede too much to the allies. It had always made it clear that in Bihar, it wants to be in a position to achieve a majority on its own.
The BJP which contested from 102 seats in the previous elections is looking to increase its tally. It would look to win at least 123 seats which is the magic number in the Bihar assembly elections. The BJP leadership says it is confident of doing well and going by the mood it feels that it should contest a majority of the seats.
Moreover, the elections this time is a direct fight between the BJP and the RDJ-JD(U) combine. The elections for the BJP are being fought solely on the image of Narendra Modi and hence the party should contest a majority of the seats, BJP sources informed.