After ditching NDA, Kushwaha joins Congress-led UPA

New Delhi,   Giving a jolt to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, former Union Minister and one-time ally, Upendra Kushwaha, joined the Congress-led UPA on Thursday and declared his party Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) will contest the elections as part of a ‘grand alliance’.

Kushwaha, who on December 10 quit as the junior human resource development minister and the BJP-led NDA, joined the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Congress headquarters here in the presence of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi and Congress Treasurer Ahmed Patel.

The development came on a day when another “disgruntled” BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in the national capital.

The LJP is said to be unhappy with the BJP over seat-sharing in Bihar ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Chirag Paswan on Wednesday had admitted to a “few concerns” and had said “It was for the biggest party in our alliance, the BJP, to address the concerns”. He had also praised the Congress for raising “real” issues of the youth and farmers during the recently concluded Assembly polls in five states.

Kushwaha, who is the second BJP ally to quit the Modi government after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was unsparing in his attack on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as well Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing the media, Kushwaha accused Nitish Kumar of attempting to weaken and destroy the RLSP in connivance with the BJP.

“Nitish Kumar is a big conspirator. He got help from Delhi government. He decided that Kushwaha has to be demolished so that he will not be able to take up the issues of Bihar,” he said.

Kushwaha attacked Modi for betraying his promises made during the 2014 election campaign, of addressing the issues of education, jobs and healthcare for the people of Bihar.

“But on all fronts, he failed to fulfill his promises. There was a difference between his talk and action. I never believed there could be so much difference,” he said.

He also praised Congress President Rahul Gandhi for honouring the party’s promises of loan waiver for farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the party has formed the government after winning the recent Assembly polls.

Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said a “pre-poll grand alliance” was imperative to defeat the BJP government at the Centre.

Asserting that first steps towards forging a grand alliance was being taken, Tejashwi also hinted at paying court to the LJP to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“There was speculation about whether Kushwaha would join the UPA. Today his party is part of the grand alliance. It was Kushwaha’s decision to join, nobody forced him.

“Similarly whether or not the LJP will join the grand alliance, that is their decision. But the country’s (political) climate is changing, you need to wait and see,” said Tejashwi.

While Tejashwi remained tight-lipped about any bid to woo Paswan to the grand alliance, sources said leaders of the Congress and the RJD were mulling a meeting with the LJP supremo.

He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of imposing an “undeclared emergency” in the country and wrecking democratic institutions, saying a “pre-poll grand alliance” of opposition parties was the need of the hour.

“If we don’t unite, people will not forgive us,” he said exuding hope that Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would sooner or later become a part of the anti-BJP “grand alliance”.

“Like-minded parties opposed to the BJP are steadily uniting. Both the SP and the BSP need not be told, they know what they should do. And I believe, their decision would be based on what the people of the country want, which is to get rid of the Modi government,” he said.

Remaining evasive about whether his party was open to the idea of Rahul Gandhi being the prime ministerial face of the grand alliance, Tejashwi praised the leadership qualities of the Congress President.

“The issue is not who will be the Prime Minister, the issue is whether our Constitution, our country will be will be protected or not from the BJP onslaught.

“The recent Assembly poll results have displayed Gandhi’s leadership qualities. The way he is striving to bring all opposition parties to a single platform is praiseworthy. I believe opposition parties are uniting and we will together defeat the Modi regime,” added Tejashwi.