JD(U) throws hat in the ring for West Bengal assembly polls

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Patna, Dec 17 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) on Thursday asserted that it was looking forward to contesting a substantial number of seats in the West Bengal assembly elections, in which its ally BJP has high stakes.

JD(U) national general secretary Ghulam Rasool Baliyavi said the party's unit in West Bengal wants to contest at least 75 seats and the number could go up, subject to the approval of the leadership.

Elections to the 294-strong West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in a few months and the BJP, which put up a stunning performance in the state in last year's Lok Sabha polls, is looking to unseat the ruling Trinamool Congress, headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

'We have contested assembly elections in West Bengal in the past. We would like to do so this time also. Our party has carried out massive membership drives in districts such as Malda, Murshidabad, Purulia and Bankura,' Baliyavi said.

He said the party was hopeful of doing well in places which has a high percentage of people hailing from Bihar, and claimed that the good governance of Nitish Kumar has created a buzz in the neighbouring state.

The JD(U) has been maintaining that its alliance with the BJP was confined to Bihar. The party has fought in states like Karnataka and Gujarat without a tie-up with the BJP, which is in power. In BJP-rule Arunachal Pradesh, the JD(U) is the main opposition party.

Similarly in Jharkhand, where BJP lost power last year, the JD(U) had contested separately.

However, the JD(U) fought the Delhi assembly polls earlier this year in alliance with the BJP.

Replying to a query, Baliyavi said, 'I am of the opinion that the BJP should think in terms of taking Nitish Kumar along. If it chooses otherwise, then every party has the right to expand its own base.' PTI NAC SOM SOM