- Two MLAs and an MLC of the party said they want to remain with the NDA
- They claimed to represent the real RLSP as they enjoy majority support
- Upendra Kushwaha had decided to quit the BJP-led alliance on Monday
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) president Upendra Kushwaha on Saturday found himself staring at an unprecedented mutiny in the ranks, with all three party members in the bicameral Bihar legislature declaring that they will not abide by his decision to break up with the ruling BJP-led alliance in the state. The move came five days after the RLSP chief decided to part ways with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and resigned from the Union cabinet.
The three also accused Mr Kushwaha of ditching the NDA to fulfil his "personal interests", signalling an inevitable split in the party ahead of the state assembly elections in 2020.
A statement to this effect was made by party MLAs Sudhanshu Shekhar and Lalan Paswan, besides lone RLSP legislative council member (MLC) Sanjiv Singh Shyam, at a joint press conference in Patna. "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," said Mr Shyam, adding that they also want a ministerial berth for Mr Shekhar.
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.
Addressing the media, Mr Shyam said all three were in favour of the party remaining in the ruling alliance. "However, Kushwaha cares too much for his own agenda to pay heed to our wishes," he said, referring to the party president's decision to part ways with the NDA on Monday. Mr Kushwaha had also given up his post as the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, accusing the BJP of betraying backward classes and offering only "jumlas" to Bihar, the same day.
The party MLC alleged that while Mr Kushwaha assured RLSP MLAs of ministerial positions in the state cabinet after Janata Dal (United) chief and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to realign with the NDA, he never tried pushing for it. "When ministerial berths were being distributed among allies, Kushwaha simply roamed around Patna. He was only interested in securing a position for himself at the central level. He did not care about somebody from his party getting a ministerial berth in the state as well," he said.
However, the three legislators refused to term their move as a "defection". "Rather, we represent the real RLSP. Our stance is in line with the sentiments of most workers and office-bearers in the party," said Mr Shyam.
Cracks within the party first came to light when Mr Shekhar and Mr Paswan turned up at a meeting of the BJP legislature party at the Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi's residence last month without the RLSP chief's permission. Mr Kushwaha had long been at loggerheads with Nitish Kumar over his party allegedly receiving little importance in the ruling alliance hierarchy.
Mr Kushwaha had founded the RLSP on March 3, 2013.
(With inputs from PTI)