Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attended a meeting of his JD(U) here on Saturday, in which the top leaders of the party discussed the ways and means to improve its prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The meeting was held at the residence of Janata Dal (United) state president and Rajya Sabha member Vashishtha Narayan Singh. A host of senior leaders, including the party's national general secretary Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, spokesperson Sanjay Singh, minister Jai Kumar Singh and MLA Lesi Singh, were among those present.
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JD(U) sources said the meeting that lasted for nearly three hours focussed on making the party more popular among the upper castes, who have traditionally supported the BJP or, earlier, the Congress.
The JD(U) enjoys tremendous popularity among the Extremely Backward Classes and the Mahadalits -- numerically large but politically submissive social groups -- thanks to the schemes of Kumar's government that have aimed at the betterment of these segments.
The support base of the JD(U) remained intact in the worst of times, but the votes failed to translate into seats whenever the party decided to go it alone like the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it managed to win only two of the 40 seats in Bihar.
The JD(U) is looking forward to putting up a sterling performance in next year's general election, which it will be contesting in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Last week, BJP president Amit Shah had announced the seat-sharing formula of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, wherein his party and the JD(U) will contest 17 seats each while the LJP will fight the remaining six.
Kumar had said at Shah's press conference that in 2019, the NDA would better its previous record of 32 seats in Bihar, which was achieved in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
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Being at the helm of affairs in Bihar for long, Kumar has the responsibility to ensure that the NDA romps home successfully in the 2019 polls.
However, opposition parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) have mocked the claim, saying Paswan's decision not to contest the Lok Sabha polls but enter Parliament through the Rajya Sabha was "out of fear that the NDA may not be able to open its account in Bihar".