RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, an NDA ally, on Friday made it clear that the party would not settle for anything less than three seats in Bihar, signalling a lack of consensus among partners over seat-sharing for next year’s general election. The RLSP had won all three seats it contested in 2014 as a part of the NDA.
“We want to contest in more than three seats, the number we had contested in last 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” Kushwaha said while addressing journalists in Patna. The RLSP chief’s remarks come days after BJP chief Amit Shah, in a joint press conference with JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, announced that both parties would contest an equal number of seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and smaller allies would have to take a cut in their share to accommodate the new partner.
The LJP, which has so far been treading cautiously on the issue, also expressed its desire last month on contesting seven seats in Bihar. The LJP had contested seven seats in the 2014 elections and won six.
While BJP is yet to announce the number of seats each party would contest, leading to anxiousness among its smaller allies RLSP and LJP, sources said the saffron party and JD(U) were likely to contest on 17 seats each, while the LJP may get four seats and RLSP two.
Hours after the announcement, Kushwaha created a stir with his “unscheduled meet” with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav at Arwal in Bihar. Earlier too, he had hinted that all was not well within the ruling coalition with his “kheer” remark. “One can prepare kheer with milk from the Yadavs and rice from the Kushwahas,” he had said.
Commenting on the RJD chief, Kushwaha said, “Lalu Prasad Yadav is no longer in active politics.” Regarding Tejashwi Yadav, Kushwaha said, Lalu’s younger son was “under training”.
Kushwaha, whose relation with Kumar can be described as cordial at best, was recently involved in a war of words with the Bihar chief minister. After Kushwaha claimed that Nitish once told him that he would not want to remain CM after three consecutive terms, the JD(U) chief shot back, saying discussions should not be taken to such a “low level”.