RLSP in alliance talks with Congress, RJD

While RLSP chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha has already been in touch with the RJD leadership to forge an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar for the last few months, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Saturday met him at his residence in New Delhi and discussed the issue. (PTI File Photo)

After quitting the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) has begun talks with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress to join the grand alliance of Opposition parties in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections next year.

The RLSP, which is expected to get 9 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats to contest the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the RJD, Congress, and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), is bargaining for 10 seats.

While RLSP chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha has already been in touch with the RJD leadership to forge an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar for the last few months, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Saturday met him at his residence in New Delhi and discussed the issue.

“We are hoping to get 10 seats to contest the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar in alliance with the RJD and other parties in the 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance). The seat sharing formula will soon be finalised,” a senior RLSP leader told DH.

The move comes at a time when RLSP chief is facing a rebellion in his ranks over his party's decision to part ways with the NDA in Bihar.

Kushwaha resigned as the Union minister of state for human resource development (HRD) and also quit the NDA on December 10 last week after remaining in the NDA fold for over four and a half years, saying “my conscience does not permit me to continue with the (Modi) government” as it was pursuing “unconstitutional and anti-OBC agenda” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Protesting the RLSP chief's decision, all three members of his party in the bicameral legislature of Bihar on Saturday declared that they will not abide by Kushwaha's decision to part ways with the NDA, threatening to approach the Election Commission to claim their stake over the party.

“We will approach the Election Commission to prove that we represent the real RLSP and enjoy the support of most party workers and office-bearers," RLSP MLA Sudhanshu Shekhar said at a joint press conference with another party MLA Lalan Paswan and RLSP's lone legislative council member (MLC) Sanjiv Singh Shyam.

The RLSP, which suspended Paswan from the party in August for “indiscipline and anti-party activities,” is considering suspension of the party membership of Shekhar and Shyam too, the party sources said.

Kushwaha joining the 'Mahagathbandhan' in Bihar could be a shot in the arm of the Opposition parties which are gearing up for the general elections next year.

While Yadavs constitute 14% of the population in Bihar, Muslims 16%, Manjhis are 2.5% which are prime vote base of the RJD-Congress-HAM combine, Koeri, the community to which Kushwaha belongs, has 12% vote share in the state.

As an NDA partner, the RLSP contested on three seats in the last Lok Sabha polls and won all of them.

The BJP won 22 seats and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) 6. Lalu Prasad's RJD had won just 4 seats while Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United (JDU) and the Congress won two each.

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RLSP in alliance talks with Congress, RJD

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