Seat sharing among constituents of the opposition "mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) in Bihar for the Lok Sabha polls will be announced on March 18, Hindustani Awami Morcha (Secular) president Jitan Ram Manjhi said on Saturday. The announcement will come following another round of talks among partners Sunday, the former Bihar chief minister said.
Leaders of the RJD and the Congress also said everything has almost been finalised and the seat-sharing would be declared on Monday. "We (grand alliance) will announce our seat sharing for the Lok Sabha polls in the state on March 18 at any cost," Manjhi told reporters after a meeting of his party's parliamentary board in Patna.
On Thursday, Bihar Congress Campaign Committee chairman Akhilesh Prasad Singh had said the seat sharing would be declared on Sunday.
"I had a talk with Jitan Ram Manjhi who said (RJD leader) Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will not be available tomorrow in the state capital. So the seat-sharing among partners in all the 40 Lok Sabha seats will be announced on Monday," state Congress president Madan Mohan Jha told PTI.
The 'mahagathbandhan', as the grand alliance is called in local parlance, comprises old allies like the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, besides new entrants such as Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP, the HAM(S), Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal and the Vikashsheel Insaan Party, a fledgling outfit floated by former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni.
"Two rounds of talks among the grand alliance partners have been held in Delhi and another round will be held in Patna tomorrow," Manjhi said.
An agreement has been virtually reached on the number of seats the HAM(S) would contest, Manjhi said without divulging details. He said his party wanted to contest in five Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
Earlier in the day, Manjhi's son Santosh Kumar Suman, an MLC and the party's parliamentary board chairman, said an agreement over 3-4 seats have been reached and the deadlock over the other seats will be resolved Sunday.
After the RJD, the HAM(S) has the strongest support base among the grand alliance partners in the state and it is not less than that of the Congress, he asserted. When pointed out that the Congress has been given 11 seats and the HAM(S) only five, Manjhi said the Bihar Congress had demanded 11 seats, but it has not been finalised.
The state Congress chief said, "It is difficult to satisfy everyone, given a large number of partners. But everyone would be in a comfortable zone". Everything has almost been finalised with regard to seat sharing in the alliance, RJD spokesperson Mriyunjay Tiwary said.
Polling in Bihar will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19.