Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Saturday met Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha, fuelling speculation the Bihar leader may join the opposition grand alliance in the state to take on the ruling combine. Kushwaha had recently severed ties with the BJP.
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party spokesperson Fazal Imam Mallick said it was the first round of talks between Kushwaha and the Congress and his party is hopeful of a "positive" outcome. Patel, a key leader of the Congress, met the former union minister at the latter's residence.
The RLSP had fought the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in an alliance with the BJP and had won three seats.
However, the ties between the two parties strained after the BJP joined hands with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and offered Kushwaha only two seats to contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The RLSP on Saturday received a major setback with all its members in the bicameral legislature of Bihar declaring that they were still with the NDA as they accused the party president of pursuing personal interests in announcing a break up with the coalition.
Both the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) MLAs-- Sudhanshu Shekhar and Lalan Paswan-- and its lone MLC-Sanjiv Singh Shyam- made a statement to this effect at a joint press conference. They also pitched for a ministerial berth for Shekhar a first-term MLA and the youngest among the three.
"We will also approach the Election Commission (EC) with the claim that we represent the real RLSP and we enjoy the support of most workers and office-bearers in the party," Shyam said making it clear that the RLSP was heading towards a split.
RLSP which fought the 2014 general election as well the 2015 state polls as a NDA constituent has altogether three MPs, including Kushwaha, two MLAs and One MLC in Bihar.
While the three Legislators have announced their separation from Kushwaha, among the two other Lok Sabha members--Arun Kumar from Jehanabad and Ram Kumar Sharma from Sitamarhi--the former has been charting an independent course for past two years.
Sharma, who initially made statements in favour of NDA and Nitish Kumar later changed his stance and was seen with Kushwaha when he had announced his resignation from the cabinet and also severing ties with the NDA in Delhi.
"We had been stating since long that we were in favour of the RLSP remaining in the NDA but Kushwaha, who was more interested in his personal gains, paid no heed," Shyam said pointing to the RLSP chiefs quitting announcement on Monday.
The RLSP MLC alleged that Khushwaha had of late been making noises about the RLSP bot being considered for a ministerial berth after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA last year.