The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, on Saturday blamed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United for creating a 'confusion' over seat-sharing within the ruling coalition.
The RLSP's attack on the JD-U came in the backdrop of media reports after a recent meeting of Kumar with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah in Delhi.
Quoting JD-U sources, they said seat sharing talks were 'in final stages' and as per the tentative formula Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's party is likely to get not more than 2 out of a total of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
NDA in Bihar constitutes the JD-U, the BJP, the RLSP and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party.
JD-U leaders such as Kumar's confidant and national general secretary R C P Singh have claimed that talks on seat-sharing were in final stages.
"The confusion arose ever since Kumar returned to the BJP-led coalition last year. It is his party which keeps coming up with claims of being a big brother in the alliance and the chief minister being the face of the coalition in the Lok Sabha polls," RLSP national general secretary and spokesman Madhaw Anand told PTI over phone from Delhi.
"Soon after meeting Shah in July in Patna, Kumar had publicly stated that seat-sharing arrangement would be finalized within four to five weeks. He should tell us what happened to his claim, now that more than two months have passed," Anand said.
The RLSP general secretary was responding to queries about a statement by Nagmani, one of the founding leaders of the party.
"It is unfortunate that the BJP is pampering the JD-U which is left with no public support, while we are being belittled. We wonder if we are being indirectly told to quit the NDA and rush into the arms of the opposition Mahagathbandhan," Nagmani had told a news channel in Patna.
Nagmani, who has been pitching for declaration of Kushwaha as the face of the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls next year and the assembly elections in 2020, also said Kumar has the votes of only Kurmis while Kushwaha is the leader of Koeris, a much more populous social group.
In response to Nagmani's remarks, BJP state vice-president Devesh Kumar said, "In politics statements are issued but political strategies are not made on the basis of these. Let the time come. All issues will be amicably settled."
Anand said, "Nagmani ji is our respected leader. The party has, however, no problem with the BJP. It is the party with which RLSP and LJP had formed an alliance. It is the BJP which will have to, in due course, bring all allies together and take the lead in coming up with a seat-sharing formula that is acceptable to all."
He said the JD-U had fought separately in 2014 and despite being the chief minister's party, it won only two seats with small margins and forfeited deposits in most constituencies.
"On the other hand, we made our debut with a cent percent strike rate as we won all the three seats we had contested," he said.
Anand said they were sure that the BJP would take these things in account and not blindly accept the JD-U's demand for being given a lion's share.
"The BJP leadership is well aware that Kumar is fighting for his survival. He is faced with a humiliating situation wherein RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav who is out of power openly proclaims that doors are closed for the chief minister's entry into the Mahagathbandhan. It is not difficult to see the writing on the wall," he said.
Meanwhile, JD-U leader and state minister Jai Kumar Singh said the RLSP would do well not to belittle Nitish Kumar whose popularity is acknowledged even outside Bihar and it might not be good for the RLSP's own political future.
A former close aide of Kumar, Kushwaha had floated the RLSP after quitting the JD(U) in 2013, comprising mostly disgruntled party leaders.
Despite its fine performance in 2014, the RLSP fared dismally in the assembly polls a year later as it returned with a tally of two in a 243-strong Vidhan Sabha.
Although uncomfortable with Kumar's return to the NDA, the RLSP has so far been maintaining that it was firmly with the BJP-led coalition notwithstanding feelers being sent by the RJD that it was welcome into the Mahagathbandhan.