New Delhi, Sep 10: The BJP-led NDA allies have come close to clinching a seat-sharing deal for the Bihar Assembly elections even as Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP on Thursday authorised the saffron outfit to take a final call on the issue.
Though BJP sources remained tightlipped about the seat sharing talks, leaders of its alliance partners said around 73-83 seats out of the total 243 could be left to them. BJP may contest anywhere between 160 and 170 seats.
An announcement may be made in a day or two, they said. Intensifying efforts to iron out their differences, BJP's Bihar election in-charge and Union Minister Ananth Kumar held separate meetings with Kushwaha and Manjhi.
He also later met LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan. The RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha said he has full faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Kushwaha has, in a letter to Shah, left the decision on the number of seats his party will get to contest to the BJP president. [Bihar to hold 5-phase assembly elections: Polls to begin from Oct 12, Results on Nov 8]
Our priority is the resurrection of Bihar and its development and issues like division of seats should not come in the way of reaching our goal, Kushwaha said.
Manjhi, who has been driving a hard bargain and had met Kumar yesterday, toed a similar line and told reporters that the BJP leadership would take a decision that is in the best interest of the alliance partners.
"We will accept whatever decision Modi and Shah take," he told reporters.
Pleading for adequate representation to his party while finalising the seat sharing formula, Manjhi has contended that his fledgling outfit HAM (secular) has 12 sitting MLAs, while LJP and RLSP have none.
That his entry into the NDA fold has given the alliance more than a foothold among the electorally crucial Mahadalit community, a support base of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was also played up by Manjhi, sources said.
Paswan has already said he would leave the issue of allocation of seats to BJP.