RLSP, out of Mahagathbandhan, stitches new alliance ahead of Bihar polls with BSP, Janatantrik Party (Socialist)
BSP, meanwhile, agreed to endorse RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha as the CM candidate, stating that the goal of this alliance was to provide equal rights to Dalits, Adivasis, and minorities
Spurned by the NDA and disowned by the RJD-helmed Grand Alliance, RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday announced another front ahead of the Assembly polls in Bihar, comprising Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and a non-descript Janatantrik Party (Socialist).
Addressing a press conference in Patna, the former Union minister said that the yet to be named front will contest all 243 Assembly segments in the state with the promise of "abki baar shiksha waali sarkaar (this time a government for education)" which would usher in an era of growth and employment generation in the state.
Kushwaha termed the 15-year rule of Nitish Kumar and the preceding decade and a half when Lalu Prasad-Rabri Devi ruled the state as "two facets of the same coin", neither of which did anything substantial to eradicate corruption and bring about improvements in health and education.
He defended his decision of joining hands with the RJD less than two years ago. The RLSP chief who recently burnt his bridges with Lalu Prasad's party by opening a front against his son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, said, "I had joined the Grand Alliance to help form an alternative government at the Centre. I was not helping the RJD form a new government in Bihar".
On 24 September, when he was "authorized" by the party to decide its future course, it was an indication that the RLSP's exit from the Grand Alliance was a mere formality.
Kushwaha had then said that he would continue in the Grand Alliance only if the coalition agreed upon a Chief Ministerial face other than Tejashwi Yadav who, according to him, was "no match to Nitish Kumar".
Asked whether he was isolated on the issue within the coalition, Kushwaha said, "Not at all. Just look at the Congress, the second largest constituent. It is still sceptical on the question of Tejashwi. Moreover, only recently Jitan Ram Manjhi quit the coalition and walked over to the NDA because of differences he had on this very issue."
Kushwaha evaded questions about talks he reportedly had with leaders of the NDA in Patna and New Delhi. "The Grand Alliance was unable to take a decision on leadership in time. Filing of nominations will begin from October 1. And we had to make a move for the betterment of
Bihar," he said.
Kushwaha said that his front now has the RLSP, BSP, and the Janatantrik Party (Socialist), a party based in Uttar Pradesh where it has a marginal presence.
The RLSP chief claimed that many more parties have evinced interest in joining his newly-formed front but he was tight-lipped when asked whether he would welcome Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which seems to be on a collision course with the JD(U)-BJP combine.
Kushwaha, who had served as the minister of state for human resource development under Prime Minister Narendra Modi till December 2017, said, "It appears the BJP is calling the shots everywhere. It controls the Nitish Kumar government and ven the RJD seems to be playing into its hands."
He also dismissed as "speculations by the media" reports that he was insistent on contesting the by-poll to Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat where voting is scheduled to take place on 7 November.
Sources in the party also said that Valmikinagar was "never on the agenda" since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had decided to field from the seat a close family member of Baidyanath Mahto, the JD(U) MP whose death necessitated the by-election.
They also said that neither Kumar nor the BJP was averse to the RLSP's return to the NDA, "but uncertainty over the prospects of the LJP" and the saffron party's insistence that it join the coalition "unconditionally, without pressing for a guaranteed number of seats in elections", threw a spanner.
Kushwaha also sought to make light of the exit of state unit chief Bhudev Chaudhary, whose crossing over to the RJD on the previous day came as a rude shock to the RLSP.
"I have let loose my boat in the ocean with the intent to reach the other shore. The faint-hearted are welcome to alight whenever they want", he said, attempting a poetic flourish.
Meanwhle, BSP supremo Mayawati confirmed the news of the alliance while adding that her party will endorse Kushwaha as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.
The objective of this alliance will be to provide equal rights to Dalits, adivasis, minorities, upper casts and the marginalised sections of society in politics, government and daily life, she said.
"Our party has decided to ally with RSLP in Bihar and its chief Upendra Kushwaha will be the Chief Minister of Bihar, if voted to power," Mayawati said.
She said while a number of governments with alliances were formed in Bihar, none of them worked for the welfare of the poor and Dalits.
"As election approached, Centre and Bihar government which were sleeping for past five years have showered announcements but people understand everything. This time they (people) will not come under the influence of anyone," she said.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said Bihar needs a government that follows the principle of "Sarvjan Hitay, Sarvjan Sukhay" (government for everyone's interest and welfare).
While the Assembly elections are being seen as largely a contest between the NDA and the Grand Alliance, the state has been witness to mushrooming of "morchas" (fronts) which may queer the pitch for the lead players in a tight contest.
On Monday, Jan Adhikar Party founder Pappu Yadav announced a tie up with the Bhim Army of Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan.
A week ago, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had announced the formation of a front in which he was joined by Devendra Prasad Yadav, a veteran socialist leader who has formed his own party.
The three-phase Bihar Assembly polls are scheduled to be held on 28 October, 3 November and 8 November while the results will be announced on 10 November.
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