The Janata Dal (United) on Thursday asserted that it was planning to contest a significant number of seats in the West Bengal Assembly elections, reported PTI. The party’s ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has been strongly campaigning for the elections slated for next year.

Janata Dal (United) National General Secretary Ghulam Rasool Baliyavi said the party’s state unit wants to contest at least 75 seats and the number may rise. “We have contested Assembly elections in West Bengal in the past,” Baliyavi said. “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 added that his party was hopeful of performing well in places with a high percentage of people from Bihar. He claimed that Nitish Kumar’s good governance had created a buzz in West Bengal. “I am of the opinion that the BJP should think in terms of taking Nitish Kumar along,” he added, according to PTI. “If it chooses otherwise, then every party has the right to expand its own base.”

The Nitish Kumar-led party has been maintaining that its alliance with the BJP was limited to Bihar. The party has contested in states like Karnataka and Gujarat without an alliance with the BJP, which is in power. In Arunachal Pradesh, where the saffron party is in power, the Janata Dal (United) is the main opposition party. Last year, in Jharkhand, the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) had fought the Assembly elections separately.

Meanwhile, during a two-day national executive meeting of the Janata Dal (United) on December 26 in Patna, the party’s top leadership may hold discussions about participation in the West Bengal Assembly elections. The party will primarily discuss its performance in the Bihar Assembly polls.

“The two-day meeting will deliberate on the party’s performance in Bihar as to what went wrong besides chalk out plans to revitalise the party and its workers,” KC Tyagi, principal national general secretary of the Janata Dal (United) told Hindustan Times. “The party is serious about expanding itself in other states too, so a decision to contest elections outside Bihar can also be taken during the meeting.”

The National Democratic Alliance returned to power in Bihar with a slender majority. The coalition won 125 seats in the 243-member State Assembly. The Opposition Grand Alliance bagged 110. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.

Quite significantly, the Janata Dal (United) has, for the first time in Bihar, won fewer seats than the BJP, pulling in just 43 to the BJP’s 74. This is reflected in the composition of the state cabinet. The BJP bagged seven berths, while five ministers are from the Janata Dal (United). One each is from two smaller allies – the Hindustani Awam Morcha and the Vikassheel Insaan Party.