- The two leaders met hours after BJP announced seat-sharing formula
- The meeting triggered speculations of discontent in Bihar's NDA grouping
- Mr Kushwaha has been hinting at possible realignment in Bihar
Hours after BJP president Amit Shah and Janata Dal(United) chief Nitish Kumar announced a 50-50 seat-sharing formula in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections, Upendra Kushwaha -- president of alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Samta Party -- met opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav in Arwal district today. The interaction triggered speculations of discontent in the state's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) grouping.
While a photograph of the meeting was shared by the RJD on its WhatsApp group, a functionary of Mr Kushwaha's party downplayed the reports -- stating that "public figures do meet each other, even if they aren't allies". The party president refused to comment on the meeting.
Mr Kushwaha's party -- known commonly as the RLSP -- is a part of the BJP-led alliance in Bihar along with Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
On Mr Shah's announcement of the BJP and the JD(U) contesting from an equal number of seats, the RLSP leader said: "He has not stated any number of seats for any party. It would not be proper for us to say anything on the matter until the number of seats assigned to each party is declared."
His party maintained that Mr Yadav had merely given Mr Kushwaha a "courtesy call". "Kushwaha, in his capacity as a Union minister, had an engagement in Arwal. It was a coincidence that Tejashwi too had a political programme in the district and the two happened to be in the circuit house at the same time," RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand said. "Kushwaha has categorically stated that no political meaning should be attached to the meeting."
Mr Anand, however, expressed the hope that his party will get more than the three seats it contested from in 2014.
RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary said that Mr Shah has shown "excessive generosity to Nitish Kumar while ignoring old allies" by agreeing to the 50-50 deal. "Nitish, on the other hand, is like a Brahmin who will first satiate himself and leave the crumbs for Shudras and Dalits," he quipped.
Mr Kushwaha had remarked a couple of months ago that "delicious kheer can be made with milk from Yadavs, rice from Kushwahas and dry fruits from Economically Backward Groups", a statement that many believed was an oblique hint that a political realignment in Bihar was possible before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
As of now, it is believed that the RLSP and the LJP will get fewer seats than what they contested from in 2014. Back then, the NDA had bagged 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar, with the BJP winning 22 and the LJP and RLSP securing six and three seats respectively.
The JD(U), which fought the polls in alliance with Left parties, won just two seats back then.
(With inputs from PTI)
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