Bihar seat-sharing dispute: Cracks appear in coalition as LJP, RLSP clash
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The Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party crossed swords on Monday over the latter's frequent outbursts against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and on the issue of sharing seats for next year's general election.
LJP parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan accused the RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha of rowing in two boats and using pressure tactics to finalise a seat-sharing arrangement between the NDA partners in Bihar by Friday.
"By setting a deadline and taking a stand that he will not talk to anybody except the prime minister, he (Kushwaha) is taking recourse to pressure tactics. Besides, he keeps on speaking against the chief minister. You cannot go on speaking against the NDA constituents while being in the coalition. It is like rowing in two boats," Chirag said.
Reacting to the young LJP leader's statement, RLSP general secretary Madhaw Anand said the party had been following the coalition dharma ever since they became a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), adding that it needed no lessons from Chirag or his father and LJP president, Ram Vilas Paswan.
"Our criticisms against Nitish Kumar are aimed mainly at his government on issues where we see a failure on part of the administrative machinery. Although we value our alliance with the BJP, for that very reason we are unsparing in our criticisms of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi as well," Anand said.
He made it clear that the RLSP would continue to raise any issue it deemed to be in the interest of the state, irrespective of whether the party was in the NDA or not.
"We do not wish to waste much time on the opinions the other NDA constituents express about us. At present, we are busy with the preparations for our rally in East Champaran on December 6 when Kushwaha would sound the poll bugle for the party," Anand added.
Kushwaha, a former Janata Dal (United) leader, had floated the RLSP in 2013 and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha poll as an NDA ally, bagging all the three seats it had contested.
On the JDU's return to the NDA last year, it was being speculated that the development would upset leaders like Kushwaha and former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha founder Jitan Ram Manjhi, both of whom had burnt their bridges with Kumar.
Manjhi had quit the NDA earlier this year, ahead of elections to the Legislative Council, where he secured a berth for his son with the help of the RJD-Congress combine.
The Opposition has also been trying to woo Kushwaha, who did not immediately reveal his cards but became vocal once BJP chief Amit Shah announced that the saffron party and the JDU would fight an equal number of seats in the state.
It was seen as a rebuff to Kushwaha whose party has been demanding a greater share than the JDU since the RLSP chief belonged to the Koeri caste, which is much more sizeable than Kumar's Kurmi community.
Kushwaha's high pitch on the seat-sharing issues has brought him in a confrontation with the JDU initially. Senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had also taken dig at the RLSP chief over its aggressive comments against Kumar.
(With inputs from agencies.)