Dissension in NDA comes to fore as Kushwaha skips meet

Kushwaha cited his prior engagements as the reason for skipping the meet. (PTI file photo)

Dissensions within Bihar's ruling NDA came to fore on Thursday evening when one of its constituents Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) president and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha skipped the NDA meet here in the state capital.

Though the meet followed by dinner was scheduled much in advance, Kushwaha cited his prior engagements as the reason for skipping the meet. Unofficially, his aides said he would prefer to talk to BJP central leadership, not state BJP leaders, over the seat-sharing talks for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Although Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan joined an array of BJP leaders over the NDA meet-cum-dinner at Gyan Bhavan here, the JD (U) upped its ante and declared that Nitish’s party won’t settle for anything less than 25 Lok Sabha seats, a formula established in 2009 polls.

“Just like in 2009 elections, when we (being a senior partner) contested 25 seats out of 40 LS constituencies, the JD (U) won’t settle for anything less than that,” said JD (U) spokesperson and key Nitish aide, Shyam Razak.

Even though the BJP leaders have publicly maintained that “all is well within the NDA”, the fact is that its allies are unhappy over the BJP dithering over seat-sharing talks.

Kushwaha, who last week asked the BJP to come clean on the seat-sharing pact, has already met an ailing Lalu Prasad and is keeping his options open for the next year LS poll.

The LJP on Thursday made it clear that it won’t give up any of the seven seats it contested in 2014 (and won six). “The question of giving up any of the seven seats does not arise,” said Pashupati Kumar Paras, the Bihar LJP chief and younger brother of Ram Vilas Paswan.

Meanwhile, even as most of the NDA leaders claimed on Thursday that there was no discontentment among the allies, it’s equally true that all eyes are now on BJP’s seat-sharing formula (with its partners) which may make or break the NDA.

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Dissension in NDA comes to fore as Kushwaha skips meet

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