Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha did not reveal his cards on Saturday over the party's continuance in the National Democratic Alliance, serving an ultimatum to the Bharatiya Janata Party to conclude seat-sharing talks by November 30.
Briefing the media after its much-publicised state executive meeting that was expected to be marked by a major announcement, Kushwaha said the offer made to the RLSP was not respectable and, hence, unanimously rejected at the meeting.
"I have met BJP national general secretary incharge Bhupendra Yadav twice in the recent past and made it clear to him that the offer was not respectable and, hence, not acceptable. I also sought an appointment with BJP president Amit Shah twice, but the same did not materialise. Though, I was told over phone that the talks on seat-sharing were not final," Kushwaha told reporters.
The Union minister, however, declined to divulge the number of seats that were offered to his party, saying it would not be proper to disclose it until a final decision on seat-sharing was taken.
There have been unconfirmed reports that, as per the tentative formula, the RLSP, which has three MPs, would be asked to settle for only two in order to accommodate Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United, which returned to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition last year.
The RLSP chief, whose efforts to rope in the BJP president in his tiff with Kumar over the latter's recent remarks against him did not bear any fruit, said, "I am in the NDA as of now."
"I will now make no efforts to meet any BJP leader, except Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom I wish to apprise of the situation in Bihar," Kushwaha said.
He alleged that there was a big group within the NDA in Bihar, which is opposed to Modi becoming the prime minister again. "I wish to caution the PM against being misled by this group. I had been favouring his candidature even before he was named the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP."
Kushwaha, however, declined to name any particular leader whom he considered to be a part of that "big group".
Kushwaha alleged that Kumar was trying to destroy the RLSP and finish him off politically by trying to lure his MLAs and MPs to the JD-U.
Kushwaha, who came to political prominence with the help of Kumar, fell out with him and floated the RLSP, and tied up with the BJP on the eve of the 2014 general election.
A spectre of a split looms large on the five-year-old party as both its MLAs, Lalan Paswan and Sudhanshu Shekhar, are said to be in touch with the JD-U.
Even one of its MPs, Ram Kumar Sharma, who was incidentally seated beside Kushwaha at the press briefing, had openly said he wanted the RLSP to remain in the NDA.
The two MLAs were not present at the meeting, though Kushwaha said the party had made attempts to contact them.
He reiterated the demand for a public apology from Kumar over his "neech" remark.
At a programme held in Patna by a news channel on November 4, in response to a query about seat-sharing among the NDA allies in the state and Kushwaha's reservations about it, Kumar had said: "Do not lower the level of discourse so much."
Kushwaha had construed this as him having been called a "lowly person" by Kumar.
He had also targeted BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi for defending the chief minister.
Notwithstanding, the RLSP chief's meeting Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the Lok Janshakti Party has also not lent its support to Kushwaha.
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, which has been trying to woo the RLSP to join the Grand Alliance, claimed that Kushwaha's exit from the NDA was final.
"His exit from the NDA is final. It is just a question of time. He is putting off a formal announcement because the more he is humiliated within the BJP-led coalition, the greater will be the political benefits that he may reap," RJD spokesperson Bhai Virendra said.
Asked whether the RJD was willing to offer a respectable number of seats to the RLSP if Kushwaha switches sides, Virendra said his party had always been willing to make sacrifices for the sake of alliance partners.