Patna: Putting an end to days of speculation on joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) on Tuesday formally announced that it was quitting the RJD-led Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) and joined hands with the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Announcing the decision, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha said he would neither join the NDA nor remain with the Grand Alliance, and had entered into an alliance with BSP to contest the polls in Bihar.
“Our alliance will contest all 243 Assembly seats and we will welcome other parties to join us to defeat the ruling NDA, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar”, Kushwaha said.
The party has authorised its president to decide the future course of action that included a decision to join any alliance or formation.
Kushwaha also targeted Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is being projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Grand Alliance, saying that RJD should change its leader, “who is Class 10th pass.”
“Tejashwi is not capable to give us freedom from Nitish Kumar-led NDA. The Grand Alliance will not be able to defeat him in polls”, he added.
Last week, the RLSP leader had made it clear that he was not comfortable with the RJD-led Grand Alliance, which includes the Congress.”We were left with little option but to explore a new political course unless RJD changes its rigid stance on leadership issues” he had said.
According to RJD leaders, Kushwaha demanded 20 to 25 Assembly seats as part of seat-sharing formula but RJD was not ready to give more than 12 seats.
Till Monday, political circles here were abuzz that Kushwaha would join the NDA and his party was offered five Assembly seats plus one Lok Sabha bye-election seat of Valmikinagar.
“RLSP had demanded 12 seats but was offered only five seats, which forced party to take a decision not to join the NDA”, an RLSP leader said.
However, Kushwaha was silent on the issue and downplayed it when mediapersons asked him why Bharatiya Janata Party failed to woo him.
After former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) last month quit the Grand Alliance, Kushwaha’s RLSP is the second party to do so it ahead of the polls.
But unlike Manjhi’s HAM that joined the NDA, Kushwaha’s RLSP has chosen a different path.
Kushwaha, an OBC (Other Backward Class) leader belonging to the powerful Koeri community, who had protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens last year and vowed to stand for secularism and social justice, was seen as an emerging leader two years ago after he resigned from the Narendra Modi cabinet.
The Koeri community is the largest social group after Lalu Prasad's Yadav caste (Yadavs) in Bihar, and is widely seen as a big challenge to BJP and Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United in the polls.
The Grand Alliance comprises Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Mukesh Sahni-headed Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP).Besides, Left parties are likely to contest polls together with Grand Alliance.