In a blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), has rejected BJP chief Amit Shah's 20:20 seat-sharing formula for the polls.
"I neither play cricket, nor do I understand this 20:20 formula. I prefer playing gilli danda instead," News18 Hindi quoted RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha as saying.
The NDA in Bihar presently constitutes the JD(U), BJP, RLSP and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). According to Shah's proposed deal with NDA allies in Bihar, the BJP would get 20 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Janata Dal (United) would get 12, the LJP would get 12 and the RLSP, two. The BJP was reported to have sought a higher number of seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in view of its better-than-expected performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Only days earlier, the RLSP had blamed Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) for creating "confusion" over seat-sharing within the ruling coalition in the state. The RLSP's attack on the JD(U) came in the backdrop of media reports after a meeting between Kumar and Shah in Delhi recently.
Last week, RLSP leader Nagmani had urged the BJP to part ways with the JD(U), saying, "The BJP should get rid of the JD(U), which has a social support base of 1.5 percent, while the RLSP has a social support base of 10 percent."
Nagmani also claimed that there was pressure to force the RLSP to walk away from the BJP-led NDA in Bihar. "The BJP will be a major loser if the RLSP joins the grand alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Hindustani Awam Morcha," he said.
RJD spokesperson Murtanjay Tiwari had also claimed that the RLSP would soon join the grand alliance.
According to The New Indian Express, the RLSP president had sought eight seats for the party in the Opposition grand alliance. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav offered him six seats instead, which he is said to have accepted.
Recently, Kushwaha had dropped hints about the growing warmth between his party and the RJD in rather colourful terms. He had quipped, "When the milk from Yadavs and rice from Kushwahas are mixed together, it makes for good kheer." He had also indicated his dissatisfaction with the NDA in July, when he skipped an iftar party organised by the JD(U) in Patna.
In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested from 30 seats in Bihar and won 22, while the LJP had won six seats and the RLSP, three. The JD(U) had contested on its own in 2014, but had performed poorly, winning only two seats.
As this News18 article points out, Kushwahas and Kurmis together constitute the second most dominant OBC caste group after the Yadavs. However, as Kushwaha has been seeking to expand his base beyond the Kushwaha-Kurmi axis, due to which he has developed differences with Nitish Kumar.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 24, 2018 18:00 PM