Patna: Disgruntled over reports that two of his party MLAs are set to join Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Union minister and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Sunday launched a blistering attack on the Bihar Chief Minister.
Kushwaha also said he would apprise BJP chief Amit Shah of the “humiliation” he had suffered at the hands of Kumar.
The RLSP chief said he would also request Shah to clear the “confusion” over seat-sharing among the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents in the state at the earliest.
He also made a jibe at Kumar, saying the JD(U) president is adept at breaking parties but he will continue with his fight.
Kushwaha’s barb at Kumar through a tweet came amid reports that Lalan Paswan and Sudhanshu Shekhar of his party will soon be inducted into the JD(U). The two legislators reportedly decided to make the switch after they got in touch with JD(U) poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
“You (Kumar) are adept in breaking parties,” Kushwaha tweeted and referred to past switchovers of RJD and Congress leaders to the JD(U), adding that people are watching his actions.
The RLSP had won two seats in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls. The other MLA of the party, Lalan Paswan, has already sided with a dissident group headed by Jehanabad MP Arun Kumar. Shekhar has so far remained loyal to Kushwaha.
Before leaving for New Delhi, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief told reporters at the airport in Patna that he had sought an appointment with Shah.
Kushwaha said he met Ram Vilas Paswan, the president of NDA constituent Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), earlier in the day and the latter concurred with his view that seat-sharing talks should be held at the earliest, involving all the coalition partners.
Kushwaha has reportedly been peeved after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (United) decided to contest an equal number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Bihar, with the saffron party indicating that it cannot spare more than two seats for the RLSP.
It had contested three seats in 2014 and won as many.
The state sends 40 members to the Lok Sabha.
Kushwaha is also unhappy with Kumar for his alleged “neech” statement. It was made at a television programme about a week ago when the JD(U) chief had refused to comment on reports that the RLSP might end up getting fewer seats than it had fought and won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Kushwaha took exception to Kumar’s response that commenting on the issue would “lower the standard of the discourse”. The Union minister has alleged that the remark is tantamount to him being called “lowly”.
RLSP supporters took out a protest march here Saturday, demanding an apology from the chief minister.
“During my meeting with Shah, I intend to raise both the issues — seat sharing as well as the humiliation by Nitish Kumar,” Kushwaha said.
He has been maintaining that his party has a tie-up only with the BJP and not with the JD(U).
“I also discussed the issue of seat-sharing with Paswan. He too was of the opinion that formal talks on seat-sharing, taking all NDA constituents in Bihar on board, ought to be held at the earliest in order to dispel confusion,” the RLSP chief said.
Paswan’s son and LJP parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan had recently said his party would like to contest the same number of seats it had done in the last Lok Sabha polls, but he was ready to make a “sacrifice” in the larger interests of the NDA.
Kushwaha, however, has been maintaining a stubborn stance, pointing out that any demand for sacrifice by the RLSP was irrational as of all the coalition partners, only his party was denied a ministerial berth in the NDA government in Bihar, formed after the JD(U)’s return to the alliance last year.
A former JD(U) leader himself, Kushwaha had quit the party in 2013 and floated his own outfit. He had joined the NDA at a time when Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP and has been viewing the JD(U)’s return to the coalition last year with much consternation.
The opposition Grand Alliance — comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha — too has been trying to woo Kushwaha into its fold.