Former Bharatiya Janata Party ally and ex-Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party appears headed for a split after its three Bihar legislators announced their decision to sever ties with him on Saturday, PTI reported. On December 10, Kushwaha had resigned from the Union Cabinet and pulled his party out of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.
Kushwaha’s party MLAs Sudhanshu Shekhar and Lalan Paswan and the MLC Sanjiv Singh Shyam held a press conference to say that they were against his decision to break away from the BJP-led alliance at the Centre. “We will approach the Election Commission to prove that we represent the real Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and enjoy the support of most party workers and office-bearers,” Shyam was quoted as saying.
The Bihar-based party’s MLA Lalan Paswan has proposed Sudhanshu Shekhar’s name for a ministerial role in the central government, ANI reported. “We have been in the NDA since the start,” Paswan said. “We want to make Narendra Modi the prime minister again in 2019. We have no relations with Upendra Kushwaha now, he went with Mahagathbandhan [grand alliance – a term used to refer to the Congress-led collection of parties].”
Meanwhile, Kushwaha met Congress leader Ahmed Patel at his residence in Delhi, triggering speculation about a possible alliance between his faction and the Rahul Gandhi-led party, ANI reported.
Withdrawal from NDA
Kushwaha had claimed that the Centre was diverting attention from real issues and that he felt “insulted” to be part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. He was the Union minister of state for human resource development.
The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party’s relations with the saffron party and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar had turned sour last month after a disagreement over seat-sharing arrangements for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Kushwaha had earlier given the alliance time till November 30 to increase his party’s share of seats. On December 3, he had dared the government to sack him.
The Congress had supported Kushwaha’s decision to quit the BJP-led coalition. “Congratulations to Kushwaha ji for telling the truth to the power,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “Let’s build a new Bharat.”