Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha said it was time for the BJP to put NDA above party interests and engage all allies in preparing the strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. He said results of the recent bypolls have shown that the Opposition is coming together and added that it was an “alert” for the BJP-led NDA to get its act together.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kushwaha said, “It is high time NDA should become a close unit. When Nitish Kumar was part of the Grand Alliance, he looked like an architect of the alliance and did not stay as the representative of one party. A similar thing should happen in the NDA. We should not wait for Lok Sabha polls to come close to work out our poll strategy and seat sharing arrangements to avoid bitterness”.
Asked about the takeaway from the defeat of NDA parties in the recent bypolls, he said: “It shows Opposition unity… We should take it as an alert”.
On RJD winning the Jokihat Assembly bypoll, he said the victory was mainly because of social arithmetic (consolidation of Muslim votes). But when asked why Nitish Kumar’s return to NDA had not paid off in the Seemanchal region as was seen in NDA-I, Kushwaha said, “There can be a turnaround if we work as NDA and not put the interests of BJP in front”.
He said he had always spoken his mind about this with PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. “It is not a time to think what we did not do in the past. We have to get our act together now,” said Kushwaha.
Asked about reports of his party making overtures to RJD, he said, “RLSP has been very much with NDA… Talks of my growing closeness with RJD is a rumour,” said Kushwaha.
Asked if Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav had grown as a leader, especially after the recent bypoll victories, the RLSP chief said, “Tejasjwi has been learning”.
To a question on whether he and Nitish Kumar, who share the same social constituency, can share space in NDA for long, Kushwaha said: “We share a comfortable relationship. We have worked together for a long time.”