New Delhi: Amidst reports that his party was offered two seats to contest in the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha announced his party RLSP’s first list of 66 candidates for the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, a move which is seen as a pressure tactic to bargain for more seats in Bihar.
After a meeting with BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav, who is in charge of Bihar, Kushwaha ruled out any rift within the NDA over seat sharing in Bihar for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and said that discussions were on as his party the RLSP wanted a “respectable agreement”.
Sources in the RLSP camp told IANS that Kushwaha was not happy with the offer and would not compromise on its demand for not less than three seats.
However, he ruled out breaking his party’s alliance with the NDA and said he met Yadav to convey his party’s stand on seat sharing.
“The meeting with Yadav was positive. However, we cannot disclose our demand as the seat sharing talks are still going on,” he told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference at his residence here.
The Junior HRD Minister in the Narendra Modi government denied reports of his resignation and said he would meet BJP chief Amit Shah in the next few days.
“If needed, we will even speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We want respectable agreement on the issue at any cost,” he said.
A few days ago, the BJP and the Janata Dal-United had announced that they will contest an equal number of seats.
While announcing the seat-sharing formula, Shah had said that when a new friend (JD-U) has joined the alliance, the number of seats for each will come down.
To this, Kushwaha asked why the RLSP was ignored in power sharing when the JD-U came into the NDA fold and formed the government in Bihar last year.
“We will have to share the losses because of JD-U. However, why were we not given share in the profit when JD-U came to the NDA,” said Kushwaha.
He said he will hold talks with NDA ally Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan on seat-sharing and called JD-U President and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar his “elder brother”.
On contesting separately in Madhya Pradesh, he said the party was free to do so as the party was not in alliance with anyone in the state.
On the BJP and JD-U announcement that they will contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls last week, Kushwaha met Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, setting off speculation that he was not happy with the developments. In all, Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
Asked about it, Kushwaha said: “It was just a coincidence.”
Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP had won 22 out of the 30 it contested while the LJP won 6 out of the seven it contested and the RLSP all the 3 it contested as part of the NDA alliance. The JD-U had bagged only two seats.