New Delhi: Soon after BJP chief Amit Shah and Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar announced the seat-sharing deal between their parties and said that the RLSP and LJP will remain with the NDA, RLSP president and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha met RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar’s Arwal district.
A picture of Kushwaha and Tejashwi Yadav’s meeting has been shared by the RJD on its mobile app.
Though the details were not immediately available, Kushwaha meeting the top leader of rival combination on a day Shah talked about seat-sharing arrangements in the NDA assumes political significance.
Refusing to reveal details of the meeting, Yadav said that everything doesn’t happen in a day and that things move forward gradually.
“Meeting took place. But it’s not compulsory to reveal what did we talk. Ek hi din mein sab kuch thodi na hota hai. Dhire dhire aage gaadi badhti hai (Everything doesn’t happen in one day. Things move forward gradually),” said Yadav.
“I had a scheduled event in Arwal and met him (Upendra Kushwaha) at the circuit house. Meetings are always positive. What conversation happened with whom, everything will be revealed in due time,” he added.
While the meeting raised several eyebrows in the political arena, a media report quoted Kushwaha terming it a mere co-incidence and that he was busy working to make Narendra Modi prime minister again.
Earlier, bringing the contentious issue of seat sharing in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Shah announced that the BJP and JD(U) will contest equal number of Lok Sabha seats in the state.
He added that the number of seats both parties, besides two other allies — Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP — will contest in 2019, will be announced in two-three days.
Sources in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which includes the BJP and its partners, said the BJP and the JD(U) may contest 16 seats each, with six and two to be left for parties led by Paswan and Kushwaha respectively.
RLSP has been demanding at least five seats while LJP wants no less than seven.
Meanwhile, The New Indian Express cited a senior RJD leader saying that Kushwaha and Tejashwi discussed the possible seat-sharing arrangement in the RJD-led grand alliance, adding that his party has assured RLSP of six to eight seats.
On the other hand, Friday’s announcement by Shah marks a climbdown by the BJP, which had contested 30 of the state’s 40 seats in the 2014 general elections and won 22, while its two other then allies, LJP and RLSP, had won six and three seats respectively out of seven and three they had fought.
To a question about whether Kushwaha, whose equation with Kumar is far from cordial, will remain a part of the NDA, Shah answered in affirmative and asserted that the alliance will do better than the last polls when it had won 31 seats.
“All four parties will remain part of the NDA,” he said.
Kumar said talks with two other allies are in the last stage and an announcement about the exact number of seats will be made soon.
On Shah’s announcement of the BJP and the JD(U) contesting equal number of seats, Kushwaha said, “He has not stated any number of seats for any party.”
A former close aide of Kumar, Kushwaha had floated the RLSP after quitting the JD(U) in 2013, comprising mostly disgruntled party leaders.
Despite its fine performance in 2014, the RLSP fared dismally in the assembly polls a year later as it returned with a tally of two in a 243-strong Vidhan Sabha.
Although uncomfortable with Kumar’s return to the NDA, the RLSP has so far been maintaining that it was firmly with the BJP-led coalition notwithstanding feelers being sent by the RJD that it was welcome into the Mahagathbandhan.