The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party on Saturday received a major setback with all its members in the bicameral legislature of Bihar declaring that they were still with the National Democratic Alliance as they accused party president Upendra Kushwaha of pursuing personal interests in announcing a break up with the coalition.
Both the 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 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 Kushwaha had of late been making noises about the RLSP being considered for a ministerial berth after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA last year.
In reality, he never tried. When ministerial berths were being allocated among allies he was simply roaming around in Patna, Shyam claimed.
“Kushwaha was happy with his own ministerial berth at the Centre. After that his entire attention had been on getting a deal that served his interests better. He simply did not care that somebody from his party should get a ministerial berth in the state as well,” he added.
Replying to a query, he said neither he nor Paswan want ministerial berths.
“We would like Sudhanshu Shekhar’s inclusion in the state council of ministers and we would be hugely disappointed if he is not considered for the same,” he said.
“We are not defectors. Rather, we represent the real RLSP. Our stance is in line with the sentiments of most workers and office-bearers in the party. We will soon be approaching the Election Commission with our claim,” he added.
NDA leaders in Bihar were not immediately available for comments on the development.
However, rumblings within the party had come to the fore last month when Shekhar and Paswan turned up at a meeting of BJP legislature party held at the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.