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Joining the Congress-led grand alliance one of the many options before us: Upendra Kushwaha


Patna, Dec 16: Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha, who last week snapped his ties with the BJP-led NDA and resigned from the Union council of ministers, on Sunday said joining the Congress-led mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) is "one of the many options" before him and a final decision is yet to be taken.

Upendra Kushwaha

Kushwaha was replying to reporters' queries on his Saturday meeting with senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Akhilesh Prasad Singh in New Delhi.

"I agree that the meeting took place but I cannot divulge in public what we talked about... joining the mahagathbandhan is one of the many options before our party. We have not taken a final decision so far," said Kushwaha, who was in Patna to address the first congregation of his party since his exit from NDA.

Upendra Kushwaha meets Ahmed Patel: Is NDA 'deserter' planning to side with Congress?Upendra Kushwaha meets Ahmed Patel: Is NDA 'deserter' planning to side with Congress?

He declined to answer queries on all three RLSP members in Bihar's bicameral legislature raising a banner of revolt, accusing him of pursuing his "personal interests" and declaring that they would remain in the NDA.

At the RLSP 'Milan Samaroh', however, Kushwaha tried to downplay the rumblings within his party. "When I reached Patna airport on Sunday, the enthusiasm I saw among party workers was much greater than the jubilation expressed over my becoming a Union minister in 2014," he said.

"It shows that you were not happy with the deal we were being offered. You wanted a greater share and were not content with just one ministerial berth. I salute this sentiment," Kushwaha said in a reference to souring of relations with the BJP following his party being offered only two of the 40 seats in the state for the Lok Sabha polls next year.

The RLSP has three Lok Sabha members, including Kushwaha himself.

While RLSP MP from Jehanabad Arun Kumar has been charting a separate path for the past two years, Sitamarhi Parliamentarian Ram Kumar Sharma initially showed pro-Nitish inclination, but later sided with Kushwaha. Sharma was seen at the Delhi press meet when the RLSP chief announced quitting the ministry and the NDA.

Training his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kushwaha alleged, "I could not get even two minutes from him, who headed the council of ministers of which I was a member of. I wanted to explain to him how we were getting a raw deal to placate Nitish Kumar."

The RLSP chief also took potshots at the prime minister and the Bihar chief minister recalling their once famous rivalry which had led to cancellation of a dinner hosted by Kumar for BJP leaders in 2010 after his pictures holding hands with Modi had appeared in newspapers.

"The NDA's dreams of a return to power at the Centre will be dashed in Bihar. They are not going to win a single seat here," he said. The RLSP chief, who was the Union minister of state for HRD, said he was going to take forward his drive for educational reforms in Bihar elucidated in a 25-point charter of demands he had presented the state government with.

"Our party workers should fan out to every corner of the state, getting signatures of people in support of our charter of demands. Once we achieve the figure of one crore, we would send a truckload of these signed declarations to the chief minister's residence," he said.

He also announced that the party would gherao the Vidhan Sabha premises in Patna on February 2, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Jagdeo Prasad, who was the tallest leader from the Kushwaha community, which largely constitutes the RLSP's support base.

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