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Something brewing? Why did Tejashwi Yadav meet union minister Kushwaha

By Simran Kashyap
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Patna, Oct 27: The meeting between Union minister and RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha and Tejashwi Yadav on Friday was "coincidental", the RJD leader said, adding that people were "free to draw their own conclusions".

Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief Upendra Kushwaha meets with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in Jehanabad

A picture of the meeting between the two leaders in Bihar's Arwal district earlier in the day was shared by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on its WhatsApp group triggering speculation of discontent within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) grouping in the state.

It specifically assumed significance as it came just hours after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah announced a seat-sharing formula in the state for Lok Sabha elections.

"People are free to draw their own conclusions. I can only say that the meeting was not pre-planned. It was a coincidence that he and I were at the Circuit House at the same time and hence it was natural for us to exchange pleasantries," Yadav, the former deputy chief minister, said.

Upendra Kushwaha calls on RJD Leader Tejashwi Yadav after BJP agrees on 50-50 seat sharing formula

"It is probably the first time that I have met Kushwaha in person. As far as prospects of his joining our grand alliance is concerned, we have invited him to do so long ago and the invitation stands. It is for him to accept it or ignore it," the leader of opposition in Bihar assembly said.

Speculations have been rife for quite some time that the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief might gravitate towards the grand alliance which at present comprises the RJD, the Congress and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha.

Yadav also accused the BJP of neglecting "trusted allies" like Ram Vilas Paswan and Kushwaha in order to woo an "undependable" Nitish Kumar.

"The BJP had won 22 out of 40 seats in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Its willingness to treat Kumar as an equal partner, whose JD(U) had won only two seats and lost its deposit in most, shows the desperation on the part of Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the leader of the opposition in the state assembly told reporters here.

"Moreover, the meeting between Shah and Kumar gives the impression that the BJP has made up its mind to go with the JD(U) chief, who is undependable having cheated both, them and us, and give a short shrift to Paswan and Kushwaha, who have been firmly with the NDA," he said.

Amit Shah told reporters in New Delhi that an announcement on the number of seats of NDA allies in Bihar, including Kushwaha's RLSP and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), will be declared in two-three days.

To a question about whether Kushwaha, whose equation with Kumar is far from cordial, will remain a part of the NDA, Shah answered in affirmative and asserted the alliance will do better than the last polls when it had won 31 seats.

"All four parties will remain part of the NDA," he said.

The RJD has been claiming that Kushwaha will leave the NDA and join the Grand Alliance following in the footsteps of Manjhi, who had quit the BJP-led coalition in February this year. Kushwaha, however, maintained that he is with the NDA.

Like Manjhi, Kushwaha is a former JD(U) leader, who had formed his own party after falling out with Nitish Kumar and joined the NDA when the Bihar chief minister was out of the BJP-led coalition.

Kumar's return to the NDA last year was understood to have caused a lot of consternation among the likes of Kushwaha and Manjhi.

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