Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan has slammed the BJP's sulking ally Upendra Kushwaha for his "pressure tactics" and pointed that Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief was "rowing in two boats". While criticising the RLSP leader's frequent outbursts against Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, Mr Paswan also said it was time Mr Kushwaha made up his mind whether he wished to stay in the BJP-led NDA or not.
Upendra Kushwaha has reportedly been upset over the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) deciding to contest an equal number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Bihar. He has set a deadline for the BJP and the JDU to reveal the agreement.
Mr Kushwaha is using "pressure tactics" to finalise a seat-sharing arrangement between NDA partners in Bihar by November 30, the LJP leader said.
"By setting a deadline and taking a stand that you will not talk to anybody except the prime minister, you are taking recourse to pressure tactics. Besides, he keeps speaking against the chief minister. You cannot go on speaking against NDA constituents while being a part of the coalition. It is like rowing in two boats," Mr Paswan, son of LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan and the party's parliamentary board chief, told PTI.
Mr Kushwaha is unhappy with the number of seats his party has been offered by the NDA for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. It isn't "respectable and, hence, not acceptable", he said and has requested the BJP for a rethink by November 30. The BJP, however, said there was no such deadline.
The NDA in Bihar comprises the BJP, JD(U), LJP, and RLSP. The LJP's comment suggests that Mr Kushwaha's support among partners within the NDA was diminishing as Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had previously taken a dig at him for his continuous attacks on Nitish Kumar.
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 also believes that he isn't being given his due because of Mr Kumar, who returned to the NDA last year after his exit from the mahagathbandhan. He defends his criticism of the Bihar chief minister saying his party has an alliance with the BJP and not the JD(U).
After the BJP and the JD(U) announced that they would contest equal number of seats in Bihar in Lok Sabha polls, Mr Kushwaha demanded that his party be given more seats than it was allotted during the 2014 elections, when the RLSP fought and won three seats.
An unscheduled meeting between Mr Kushwaha and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in October sparked speculation about RLSP planning to quit NDA. But he played the meeting down as a "coincidence".
He said that he has spoken to BJP national chief Amit Shah on phone, but in the future, he is not going to make any attempts to contact any leader on the seat-sharing issue and would only talk to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Sunday, he said he wants PM Modi to return as prime minister in 2019, "but he will not tolerate any insult".
In 2014 polls, BJP, LJP and RLSP had together won 31 seats out of the total 40 in Bihar. The BJP had got 22 seats and the LJP six. But with the return of the JD(U) in the NDA last year, the equation has changed.
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