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BJP to tie up with JD(U) for Bihar, Jharkhand polls

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 4. The Bharatiya Janata Party will enter into an alliance with the Janata Dal (United) for the Assembly elections in Bihar and Jharkhand. The announcement was made today after a meeting of the party's Parliamentary Board.

However, the JD(U) camp is divided over the issue of alliance. The Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan had stated that the JD(U) could have an alliance with it only if the latter severed its ties with the BJP.

In the last Assembly elections in Bihar, the BJP contested 84 seats, leaving the rest to the JD(U), but now it wants to contest more seats. In the year 2000 the BJP's seat share was larger in what is now Jharkhand while the JD(U) contested the majority of the seats is what is now left of Bihar.

``Pandrah saal, bura haal, sarkar badaliye, Bihar badliye.'' (Fifteen years and it is a mess. Change the Government, change Bihar). That is the BJP's slogan for the election and posters conveying this have been pasted all over the office of the party's `prabhari' (in-charge) in the State, Arun Jaitley.

The major question before the BJP now is whether the JD(U) will remain intact in the run-up to the elections. While former Defence Minister, George Fernandes, is firmly in favour of seat sharing with the BJP, some other leaders — Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav — do not share his antipathy towards the Congress.

In Jharkhand, the BJP fears that it will be an uphill task to regain the voters' confidence. Corruption has become a major issue and there is a strong anti-incumbency factor working against it. Party leaders and workers themselves admit that the Jharkhand Chief Minister, Arjun Munda, has been most ineffective.

The BJP central election committee will meet on January 8 and 9 to begin the process of selection of candidates but it is highly unlikely that the seat-sharing exercise would be completed by then.

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