Stating that he would “not accept the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav” in the RJD-led Opposition Grand Alliance, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday said his party is keeping all options open and has started preparing to contest all 243 seats in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.
Kushwaha has also hinted that his options include a return to the BJP-led NDA, which he had left in December 2018, months before last summer’s General Election.
The RJD maintained that there is no possibility of any rethink on Tejashwi as the alliance’s leader.
Party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari told The Indian Express, “We have made it pretty clear that Tejashwi Prasad Yadav would be the Grand Alliance’s CM face. There cannot be any debate on it. It is up to Kushwaha to stay back with us or quit the alliance”.
Sources said the JD(U) has offered Kushwaha the option to contest from Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the death of its JD(U) representative, Baidyanath Mahto, in February.
The RLSP has reportedly been offered five to seven seats in the Assembly polls.
Addressing party workers in the state capital, Kushwaha on Thursday said: “We will not accept Tejashwi as the Grand Alliance leader. We can accept anybody as the leader from RJD but not Tejashwi. When I go to the field, people raise doubts on Tejashwi’s leadership.”
Stating that RLSP has started preparing to contest all 243 seats in the Assembly polls, Kushwaha said, “Those who want to come with us are welcome.”
The party RLSP has reportedly been in talks with Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahni and Jan Adhikar Party chief Rajesh Ranjan – better known as Pappu Yadav – to forge a possible third front in the state elections.
Sources said Kushwaha has been also in contact with the JD(U) and BJP. “A lot will depend on LJP’s stand. If LJP walks out of NDA, RLSP will have a good space in NDA. Otherwise there could be an offer of a few seats,” a BJP source said, adding that the JD(U) has warmed up to Kushwaha.
Kushwaha, who had met Tejashwi, the Leader of Opposition, last week, was not given any assurance on the number of seats his party would get to contest. Although Congress’s Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil said that no alliance partner is leaving the Grand Alliance, RLSP is said to be upset at being cornered in the alliance.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines