Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, who recently stormed out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in a huff, joined the ‘mahagatbandhan’ or grand alliance in Bihar at a packed press conference in the Congress party headquarters.
As he was welcomed into the opposition fold by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, Congress’ Shaktisinh Gohil and HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha) leader Jiten Ram Majhi, Kushwaha heaped praises on Congress President Rahul Gandhi. “Rahul Gandhi has done what he committed on the farm loan waiver issue,” he said. Kushwaha added he’d suffered humiliation in the NDA since the return of Nitish Kumar into the alliance. “When Nitish called me “neech”, I quietly suffered even then,” he pointed out.
While the seat-sharing arrangement has not yet been announced, it appears that Kushwaha’s RLSP may get 4-5 seats out of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats to contest on. Meanwhile, the Congress could contest on 8-12 seats and RJD 18-20 seats. Both HAM and Left parties would be left with one seat each to contest on.
RLSP parted ways with the NDA on December 10 after it became clear that neither the BJP nor the JDU were willing to part with more than two seats for their smaller ally, despite RLSP winning all three seats it had contested on in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP-JDU had announced a 50:50 seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar, it appeared, without taking other partners into confidence.
Speaking of RSLP’s entry into the ‘mahagatbandhan’, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “This is an alliance of the hearts, not parties. Uncle Nitish has raped the mandate of the people.”
While the mahagatbandhan celebrated a new entrant on Thursday, ally woes continued for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Ally Lok Janshakti Party has been building pressure on the BJP to announce a “respectable” seat-sharing formula for the partners in Bihar. Recently party MP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s son, Chirag Paswan tweeted, “After TDP and RLSP’s exit, NDA is going through a rough patch. At such a time, BJP should alleviate the remaining allies’ woes in a respectable manner.” He also wrote recently to Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley questioning the purported benefits of demonetisation.
In this heated atmosphere, the BJP swung into damage control mode and called in Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan for a meeting with party president Amit Shah. LJP is unhappy with BJP insisting Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan not contest the Lok Sabha polls and instead become a Rajya Sabha member. By the evening, it was unclear if the meeting with Shah, which also had Arun Jaitley in attendance and lasted over an hour, was able to reach any truce. All eyes now will be on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is scheduled to reach Delhi on Friday.
News credit : indiatoday