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Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party joins UPA

(From left) Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Congress in-charge for Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on December 20, 2018.

(From left) Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Congress in-charge for Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on December 20, 2018.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The announcement was made at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi.

Days after quitting the NDA, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha joined the UPA on Thursday. He is the second ally to desert the BJP-led alliance. The BJP got into damage-control mode, with its president Amit Shah meeting Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party president Ramvilas Paswan to assuage his concerns.

Mr. Kushwaha, flanked by Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav and Congress Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil, joined the grand Opposition alliance in Bihar. 

“At a time when I was being insulted [in the NDA], I felt that there were people standing with open arms to restore my honour,” Mr. Kushwaha said. He thanked Congress president Rahul Gandhi and RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad. He said he joined the UPA on the orders of the voters of Bihar. 

Welcoming him into the fold, Mr. Gohil said theirs was an alliance of ideology, not of power or self-interest. The seat-sharing arrangement would be done later.

Merger likely

Sources said the Loktantrik Janata Dal would merge with the RLSP, and they were expecting to get eight of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the State. 

The RLSP had contested and won three seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which was swept by the NDA. He was being offered, the sources said, only two seats, and his differences with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had forced him out of the saffron camp.

Mr. Tejashwi Yadav, congratulating Mr. Kushwaha, said their alliance would provide Bihar a positive alternative that will make fewer promises but keep the ones that they make. Speaking of the Lok Janshakti Party, which has set the deadline of December 31 for the BJP to decide the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar, Mr. Yadav said, “Thand badh gayi hai, mausam badal raha hai, ab desh ka achchha mausam aane wala hai (It’s getting cold, weather is changing and hopefully the country will soon have good weather).”

Minutes after Mr. Kushwaha walked over to the UPA, BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav met Mr. Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan at their residence. Later, Mr. Yadav along with the Paswans drove to meet BJP president Amit Shah.

The LJP has been insisting that they should get seven seats, the same as they had contested in 2014, and should get seats in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, too. The bone of contention is a Rajya Sabha seat that the BJP had promised. Mr. Paswan, an eight-time Lok Sabha member, wants to hand over his traditional constituency of Hajipur to his son and come to Parliament through the Rajya Sabha. 

(With inputs from Nistula Hebbar)

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 12:01:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/upendra-kushwaha-led-rlsp-joins-upa/article25788874.ece

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