The grand alliance envisaged by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu as a platform to bring non-BJP parties together to take on the ruling party in next year's national elections may soon have a new entrant. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha, who parted ways with the BJP-led NDA and resigned from the Union cabinet over seat-sharing in Bihar, considers the mahagathbandhan or grand alliance as "one of the many options". But a final decision is yet to be taken, he said.
After meeting senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Akhilesh Prasad Singh in Delhi on Saturday, Mr Kushwaha said, "I cannot reveal any details... but joining the mahagathbandhan is one of the many options before our party. We have not taken a final decision so far."
However, the RLSP has maintained his silence on all three party members in the bicameral Bihar legislature declaring that they will not resign from the ruling BJP-led alliance in the state and their accusations that Mr Kushwaha exited the NDA to fulfil his "personal interests".
The BJP's offer of only two of the 40 seats in the state for the Lok Sabha polls next year had reportedly upset Mr Kushwaha. It isn't "respectable and, hence, not acceptable", he had told the BJP.
The RLSP -- which fought the 2014 general election as well as the 2015 state polls as an NDA constituent -- has three parliamentarians (including Mr Kushwaha), two MLAs and one MLC from Bihar.
While RLSP's MP from Jehanabad Arun Kumar has been charting a separate path for the past two years, Sitamarhi Parliamentarian Ram Kumar Sharma initially showed pro-Nitish inclination, but later sided with Mr Kushwaha. Mr Sharma was with the RLSP chief when he resigned as the union minister and broke up with the NDA.
Mr Kushwaha is a former JD(U) leader, who started his own party in 2013. After the separation, Mr Kushwaha has continued to criticise Mr Kumar on several issues, including governance. He has even accused him of trying to break his party.
Mr Kushwaha calims he "wasn't given his due" because of Mr Kumar, who returned to the NDA last year after breaking up from the mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
"I could not get even two minutes with him (Prime Minister Narendra Modi). I wanted to explain to him how we were getting a raw deal to placate Nitish Kumar," Mr Kushwaha alleged.
The former minister of state for HRD has warned that "the NDA's dreams of a return to power at the centre will be dashed in Bihar. "They are not going to win a single seat here," he said according to news agency PTI.
He also said that the countdown of the BJP had begun after the party lost three big states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh -- to the Congress and two others -- Telangana and Mizoram-- to regional parties.
He also accused PM Modi of reducing the cabinet to a "rubber stamp", "betraying backward classes and giving Bihar only jumlas".
"I joined the NDA on the agenda of development, but over the years I realised that after forming the government, they were working on the development of their own agenda, which is that of the RSS," he said.
The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the BJP and along with other Hindu organisations has been pressurising the party into introducing an ordinance or executive order on the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.