Neck and Neck fight in Bihar: Naqvi

New Delhi, Aug 26

Senior BJP leader and Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said there was neck and neck fight in Bihar.

He added that despite all this, the party was confident that the people of the state would ultimately reject the '' unnatural and opportunist'' alliance led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Mr Naqvi's comment came as hard bargaining was going on between the BJP and its allies over seats for coming Assembly elections.

The newly-formed Hindustan Awami Morcha (HAM) of former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has demanded a hefty share in the Bihar Assembly seats leaving only 122 for the BJP. The allies are demanding early finalization of seats in view of the ''Mahagathbandhan'' (grand alliance) of JD (U), RJD and Congress settling for 100-100-40 seats each.

''We are talking to Mr Manjhi on seat sharing and hope to come out with a solution acceptable to all,'' told Mr Naqvi. ''There was no ideological similarity between Mr Kumar of JD (U), Mr Lalu Prasad of the RJD and the Congress. These two new allies of the Congress were speaking only the voice of the bigger party, but they were far from the ground reality, Mr Naqvi said.

''The bond between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad was bound to break as both were over ambitious and greedy for power,'' he said. He, however, admitted that the contest was going to be tough. Mr Naqvi said the three grand alliance parties should not take the Muslim vote of Bihar for granted. ''There has been quite a change in the way the Muslim community now looks at the BJP, and this has been proved by the number vote the BJP got in the last Lok Sabha elections.

On the impact of the recent communal incidents on voters, Mr Naqvi said he did not think that violence before polls benefit any party. He dismissed the view that Meerut violence in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls led to any polarisation in favour of the BJP.

On the issue of inflammatory speeches by some party MPs and Ministers, the Minority Affairs Minister said these were ''fringe voices and had no place in the party.'' He was of the view that the issue of the issue of inflammatory speeches was used by the Opposition Congress to the hilt in order to malign the Narendra Modi Government but they finally could not succeed to take any political mileage out of it. ''And then one thing is not to be overlooked that such communal speeches are coming from both the sides,'' he said in obvious reference to the statements of leaders like Asauddin Owaisi of Anjuman Ittehad-e-Muslimeen.

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