Lok Sabha Polls Countdown Begins, BJP Works On Poll Calculus With Allies

PM Modi with Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP boss JP Nadda (File).

New Delhi:

With weeks before the Lok Sabha election dates are announced, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is busy settling seat-share deals with its NDA partners or deciding, in some cases, to go it alone.

The BJP’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and party boss JP Nadda, held a grueling midnight meet Thursday to whittle down a long-list of candidates.

READ | After Meeting Till 4 am, BJP May Name Over 100 Candidates: Sources

A list of names for 100 seats – including Mr Modi for Varanasi and Mr Shah for Gandhinagar – is expected later today, sources have said, as the BJP looks to ramp up pressure on rivals INDIA by releasing candidates even as the opposition group struggles to close seat-share deals.


Sources told NDTV the party has opted for the solo route in Haryana, where the JJP of Dushyant Chautala will be sidelined. Mr Chautala helped the BJP retain the state after the 2019 Assembly election, in which the saffron party emerged the single-largest but fell six seats short of majority.

The JJP did contest the 2019 general election; it fielded candidates in seven seats in a deal with the Aam Aadmi Party, but was routed. The JJP-AAP combine failed to win any seat.

In fact, the BJP swept the state, winning all 10 seats and more than 58 per cent of the votes


Over in Jharkhand the BJP will give one seat – possibly Giridh – to the All Jharkhand Students Union. The AJSU contested that seat five years ago and scripted an easy win, with Chandra Prakash Choudhary polling over 2.5 lakh votes more than the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Jagamath Mahto.

Jharkhand sends 14 MPs to the Lok Sabha and the BJP holds 12 of these seats.

Uttar Pradesh

In the politically key state of Uttar Pradesh – which sends 80 MPs to the Lower House, by far the most of any state – sources said the BJP has decided to keep the lion’s share of seats; this is understandable given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has dominated UP electoral politics.

Only six will be left for NDA members; the Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal will get two each, with one each for the Nishad Party and Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.

READ | INDIA’s UP Seat Sharing Pact Done, Congress To Fight On 17 Seats

The BJP won 62 of UP’s 80 seats in the 2019 election and a staggering 71 five years earlier. It also routed its rivals in state polls, winning 255 of 403 seats in 2022 and 312 in 2017.

What is, perhaps, an interesting point, and certainly one that will have been noted by the INDIA opposition bloc, is the declining absolute return for the BJP over the last two central and state polls.

That, though, must be offset by a marginal increase in overall vote-share in each instance.


And in Assam, the BJP has agreed to leave three of the northeastern state’s 14 seats to its allies.

The Asom Gana Parishad will get two and the United People’s Party Liberal will get the third.

READ | BJP To Contest 11 LS Seats In Assam, 3 For Allies: Himanta Sarma

The AGP and UPPL received the same share last time but did not win any seats, while the BJP secured nine of the 10 seats it contested.

Challenges Elsewhere

No decision has been reached yet for other states.

This includes Bihar, where political equations have seen a sea change after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) dumped INDIA and re-aligned with the BJP. The JDU brought with it old NDA allies like ex-Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).

The BJP must also factor in existing partners, like rival factions of the Lok Janshakti Party.

Like UP, Bihar is a key state since it sends 40 MPs to Parliament; only Maharashtra (another state where the BJP is still working out how to proceed) and Bengal have more Lok Sabha seats.

In 2019 the BJP won all 17 seats it contested, while its key ally – Nitish Kumar’s JDU – claimed 16 of 17 and the LJP (then united) added a handy six seats to the final score.

In Maharashtra the BJP is in final talks with the Shiv Sena and NCP factions led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar, respectively. The difficulty here is to ensure that Mr Shinde and Mr Pawar are happy with their share, since their combined strength props up its state government.

READ | INDIA’s Maharashtra Seat Deal Done? Congress To Contest 18

In the last election the BJP was allied with the Shiv Sena, which was then an unbroken outfit led by Uddhav Thackeray. The BJP fielded candidates in 25 seats and won 23, while the Sena had the remaining tickets and secured 18 of them, giving the Prime Minister’s party another sweep.

BJP’s 2024 Election Gameplan

Sources have told NDTV the BJP’s strategy, as it bids for a third term, revolves around getting feedback on sitting MPs’ – including but not limited to discussions with grassroots-level workers and voters in their constituencies – and a tactical reshuffle to eliminate the anti-incumbency bias.

NDTV Explains | BJP’s New Strategy To Pick Candidates For 2024 Polls

The party has also said several MPs from Other Backward Classes. or OBCs, are expected to contest again. In 2019, the BJP saw 85 of its OBC MP candidates emerge victorious.

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