Rashtriya Lok Samata Party President and Bharatiya Janata Party ally Upendra Kushwaha met Opposition leader Sharad Yadav on Monday, fuelling speculation that he may break away from the National Democratic Alliance over his differences with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar regarding the proposed seat-sharing arrangements in the state for next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
However, in a tweet, the Union minister described the meeting as a courtesy call. Sharad Yadav was forced out of the Janata Dal (United) last year after he opposed Nitish Kumar’s decision to tie up with the BJP.
After the meeting, Kushwaha accused Kumar of attempting to poach his MLAs. “He has come down to destroying Upendra Kushwaha and his party but he cannot cause any damage to me,” ANI quoted the Union minister as saying. “He is a part of the NDA and so are we, he should not do such things.”
On Sunday, legislators from Kushwaha’s party Sudhanshu Shekhar and Lalan Paswan met top Janata Dal (United) leaders, including its national vice-president Prashant Kishor, and were reportedly offered a ministerial berth and a ticket to contest from the Sasaram parliamentary seat.
Last week, Kushwaha had demanded that his party be allotted more than three seats in Bihar, claiming its strength and base have increased.
On October 26, BJP President Amit Shah had announced that the BJP and Janata Dal (United) would contest an equal number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Shah had then said that the seat-sharing negotiations with all allies have concluded but did not announce any details. Kushwaha said the agreement between the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) did not matter since it could also mean 15 seats each, leaving five each for his party and the Lok Janshakti Party. There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
Kushwaha had claimed earlier this month that Nitish Kumar told him he did not want to continue as the chief minister of Bihar after Assembly polls in the state in 2020. But the Janata Dal (United) rejected this claim.