The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has dismissed speculation that it is on the verge of an agreement with Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) for the elections in Bihar in late October and November.
“The BJP does not need the RLSP. The coalition that we have with the JDU [Janata Dal-United], the LJP [Lok Janshakti Party], and the HAM [Hindustani Awam Morcha] will get a majority and we will form the government again in Bihar,” said a BJP functionary.
There has been speculation that the LJP, which continues to push for more seats, will put up candidates against the JDU and walk out of the NDA if the party’s demands are not met. The RLSP has also indicated that it is keen to re-join the NDA after quitting the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance).
BJP leaders dismissed the speculation that in the event the LJP quits the NDA, the RLSP could replace it.
The party leader quoted above said the LJP continues to be a part of the NDA and its concerns would be addressed at the formal seat sharing discussions over the next few days.
HAM, which counts Maha Dalits among its core support base, has re-joined the NDA and is expected to offset the losses if the LJP breaks ties with the NDA. Dalits account for 18% of Bihar’s population.
The functionary quoted above said the RLSP will be a “political liability” for the BJP as it does not have support on the ground and is considered “unreliable”.
“Going by our past experience, the RLSP has not been faithful. They were given a ministerial berth but the party switched loyalties. Even in the Mahagathbandhan, they did not make any value additions so had to exit that alliance as well.”
Kushwaha quit as Union minister in 2018 accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of betraying Bihar amid speculation that the RLSP would not be given more than two seats to contest the 2019 national elections.