Days after quitting the National Democratic Alliance, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief Upendra Kushwaha joined the United Progressive Alliance on Thursday in the presence of leaders of the grand alliance in Bihar and said they would together work towards ensuring social justice in the state.
The announcement of Kushwaha joining the 'mahagathbandhan' of opposition parties in Bihar came at a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi in the presence of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, All India Congress Committee state in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, opposition leader Sharad Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular.
The former Union minister, who held the education portfolio in the NDA government, joined the UPA after holding talks with the top Congress leadership.
On a seat-sharing arrangement with the UPA, he said, "We will take the right decision at the right time."
Kushwaha said the main reason behind him quitting the NDA was the failure of the Modi government to fulfil the promises made to the people of Bihar, besides the ‘insult’ he suffered within the NDA.
He said an ‘aakrosh march’ will be taken out in Patna on February 2 in which various like-minded parties would participate.
Welcoming him into the alliance, Patel said it's a matter of pride that all like-minded parties have got together, and Kushwaha is joining this coalition today.
Kushwaha lauded Congress president Rahul Gandhi for coming to the aid of farmers and youths and said he does what he says.
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘insulting’ the people of Bihar and the country by not fulfilling the promises made to them.
The RLSP chief alleged Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conspired to weaken him within the NDA and that the prime minister remained a mute spectator when he was being ‘insulted’.
"Our party was being weakened as part of a conspiracy. Nitish Kumar tried to break my party," he alleged.
Patel said it's a matter of pride that all like-minded parties have come together, and Kushwaha is joining this coalition today.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said ‘this is a union of hearts and not of parties’ and asserted that the weather in the country is changing.
He alleged that under the Modi government, an ‘undeclared emergency and dictatorship’ had been imposed in the country and that Nitish Kumar disrespected the mandate given by the people of Bihar.
Yadav also took a dig at the NDA's claim of having a double-engine government in Bihar, saying while one of the engines denotes corruption, the other stands for rising crimes in the state.
Appealing to like-minded parties to unite against the NDA, he called their leaders to ‘sacrifice their egos in national interest’.
He also alleged that the Modi government posed a big threat to the country's Constitution and institutions and said the UPA coalition will provide ‘positive and constructive’ governance in the state.
It's a fight against those who have "befooled" the people of Bihar and the country and those who are out to destroy the Constitution and institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation, he said.
"The 'Mahagathabadhan' family in Bihar is growing. It's a coalition of the 'hearts of people' and not an alliance of parties. It is a coalition on issues.
“It is a coalition of the 'new pact' with farmers and youth. It is a coalition of the new commitment towards social justice. It is a coalition of the people against mobocracy and dictatorship," Yadav said.
"The 'Mahagathbandhan in Bihar is a 'halla bol' (war cry) coalition of Dalits, backwards, minorities and progressive people against 'Manuvaadis'. This is a popular alliance of justice-loving forces against those who are out to destroy institutions like the RBI, ED and CBI," he said.
Asked about Bihar Congress leader Ranjeet Ranjan's remarks that Nitish Kumar is welcome into the grand alliance, Gohil said, "It is a hypothetical question."
While Sharad Yadav said the country is going through tough times and all parties are coming together to fight, Jitan Ram Manjhi said the coalition will help correct the mistakes of the NDA government.
Kushwaha's joining the UPA is likely to give a boost to the formation of a grand alliance in Bihar to counter the NDA combine of Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal(United)-Lok Janshakti Party.
The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular are already part of the UPA in Bihar and are seeking to give a fight to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The saffron alliance had swept the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, winning 31 of the state's 40 seats.