Patna: In a blow to BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Monday hinted at his party rejecting Amit Shah’s proposed 20-20 seat sharing formula for Bihar.
While addressing the media in Patna on Monday, NDA ally Kushwaha said, “I do not play cricket and I do not understand this 20-20 formula. Instead, I would love to play ‘gilli danda’.”
According to BJP’s 20-20 seat-sharing plan, among the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, BJP plans to contest 20 while leaving 12 for Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), 6 for Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and only 2 for Kushwaha’s RLSP.
When asked whether BJP has reached out to him to address his concerns, Kushwaha said, “I can’t comment on this until anything concrete comes out of it.”
“I have never played 20-20 cricket in my life and am neither interested to play it now. Instead, I would love to play ‘gilli danda’,” he said. When asked whether playing ‘gilli danda’ means he would jump the ship, Kushwaha replied with a smile and said, “Wait for a few days. Everything should be clear very shortly.”
The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, a constituent of NDA, on Saturday had also blamed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) for creating “confusion” over seat sharing within the ruling coalition.
The RLSP’s attack on the JD(U) came in the backdrop of talks of JD(U) finalizing the seat sharing formula with Amit Shah in Delhi.
Sources said, Kushwaha’s party was unlikely to get any more than 2 out of a total of 40 Lok Sabha seats.
JD(U) leaders such as Kumar’s confidant and national general secretary RCP Singh have claimed that talks on seat-sharing were in final stages.
“The confusion arose ever since Kumar returned to the BJP-led coalition last year. It is his party which keeps coming up with claims of being a big brother in the alliance and the chief minister being the face of the coalition in the Lok Sabha polls,” RLSP national general secretary and spokesman Madhaw Anand told PTI over phone from Delhi on Saturday.
“Soon after meeting Shah in July in Patna, Kumar had publicly stated that seat-sharing arrangement would be finalized within four to five weeks. He should tell us what happened to his claim, now that more than two months have passed,” Anand said.
The RLSP general secretary was responding to queries about a statement by Nagmani, one of the founding leaders of the party.
“It is unfortunate that the BJP is pampering the JD(U) which is left with no public support, while we are being belittled. We wonder if we are being indirectly told to quit the NDA and rush into the arms of the opposition Mahagathbandhan,” Nagmani had told a news channel here.
Nagmani, who has been pitching for declaration of Kushwaha as the face of the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls next year and the assembly elections in 2020, also said Kumar has the votes of only Kurmis while Kushwaha is the leader of Koeris, a much more populous social group.
Anand said the JD(U) had fought separately in 2014 and despite being the chief minister’s party, it won only two seats with small margins and forfeited deposits in most constituencies.
“On the other hand, we made our debut with a cent percent strike rate as we won all the three seats we had contested,” he said.
Anand said they were sure that the BJP would take these things in account and not blindly accept the JD(U)’s demand for being given a lion’s share.
“The BJP leadership is well aware that Kumar is fighting for his survival. He is faced with a humiliating situation wherein RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav who is out of power openly proclaims that doors are closed for the chief minister’s entry into the Mahagathbandhan. It is not difficult to see the writing on the wall,” he said.
Meanwhile, JD(U) leader and state minister Jai Kumar Singh said the RLSP would do well not to belittle Nitish Kumar whose popularity is acknowledged even outside Bihar and it might not be good for the RLSP’s own political future.
A former close aide of Kumar, Kushwaha had floated the RLSP after quitting the JD(U) in 2013.
Despite its fine performance in 2014, the RLSP fared dismally in the assembly polls a year later as it returned with a tally of two in a 243-strong Vidhan Sabha.
Although uncomfortable with Kumar’s return to the NDA, the RLSP has so far been maintaining that it was firmly with the BJP-led coalition notwithstanding feelers being sent by the RJD that it was welcome into the Mahagathbandhan.