Bihar grand alliance talks tumble

PATNA: The deadlock over seat-sharing in the Bihar 'Grand Alliance' for the Lok Sabha elections continues with the allies on Thursday failing to arrive at a conclusion on at least six key seats - Madhubani, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Jamui, Begusarai and Muzaffarpur.

Though filing of nomination papers for the first phase of elections will start from March 18, alliance functionaries are still holding negotiations in New Delhi to seal the deal.

Senior Congress functionaries claimed the names of alliance candidates would be announced phase-wise. This means that the Mahagathbandhan will first announce names of candidates for the four constituencies - Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad and Jamui - which will go to the polls in the first of the seven phases on April 11.

Senior grand alliance functionaries said the announcement on seat-sharing would be made on April 17, a day before the issuance of notification for the first round of voting.

According to sources, RJD is keen on contesting around 20 seats, while Congress is firm on not less than 15 seats. Meanwhile, Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi is adamant on its demand for five seats, while Vikassheel Insan Party led by Mukesh Sahni is demanding three seats, and RLSP led by Upendra Kushwaha five seats .

Sources said Manjhi, Sahni and Sharad Yadav of Loktantrik Janata Dal have been offered one seat each and Kushwaha three. Two seats have been identified for the Left parties. Neither Congress nor RJD was ready to sacrifice their seats to fulfill the demands of smaller allies, the sources added .

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