(Eds: Recasts intro, edits throughout) Patna, Oct 2 (PTI) RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha said on Friday he has formed a three-party front to contest the Bihar assembly elections to present to the people a 'positive choice' and not to split the opposition votes.
The former union minister said people of the state want an end to the 15-year 'misrule' of Nitish Kumar.
He also said the RJD does not have a 'strong' chief ministerial face, and people are yet to forget what happened during the 15 years of Lalu-Rabri dispensation.
The RJD government was panned by its political rivals over the law and order situation and alleged lack of development.
'People no longer have confidence in Nitish Kumar....
they also don't want to go with the RJD, as both are two sides of the same coin. In such a situation, we have launched a front of three parties to give a positive choice to the people,' Kushwaha told PTI-Bhasha in an interview.
Having been spurned by the NDA and discarded by the RJD-helmed 'Mahagathbandhan', Kushwaha has forged a coalition with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and little-known Jantantrik Party (Socialist).
BSP supremo Mayawati has announced that her party will project Kushwaha as the coalition's chief ministerial face, an assertion the ruling NDA and the main opposition grand alliance have scoffed at.
When asked why he left the grand alliance, the former union minister said, 'The present leadership of the RJD is not strong enough to remove Nitish Kumar from power and its chief ministerial candidate (Tejashwi Yadav) is no match to him (Kumar).' Tejashwi, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad's son and heir apparent, is virtually leading the party with his mother Rabri Devi in the absence of his charismatic father who is serving time in jail in Ranchi after conviction in multiple fodder scam cases.
'Had the opposition coalition decided on another person as its chief ministerial candidate, it would have helped in removing Kumar from power...but unfortunately this did not happen,' he said.
'In these circumstances, I thought instead of getting wiped out in the polls it is better to form another alliance to give one more choice to the people of Bihar,' the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) president said.
Kushwaha rubbished suggestions that his coalition was there to split opposition votes and help the NDA.
'Our front is neither to split anybody's votes nor to indirectly help somebody else. We are in the election arena to give a viable option to voters,' he asserted.
When asked about whether he had held any talks with Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, which appeared uncomfortable in the NDA and whose president Chirag Paswan was repeatedly attacking Nitish Kumar, he replied in the negative.
'The LJP has not made its stand clear (about whether it will contest the elections as part of the NDA). If Chirag Paswan decides to walk out of the alliance, then we will talk.
If LJP comes with us, we will be able to present an even stronger alternative to the people of Bihar,' he said.
In the 2015 assembly polls, the RLSP had fielded 23 candidates as part of the grand alliance and two of them won.
It also managed to secure a seat in the legislative council.
However, all three legislators later revolted against Kushwaha and joined Nitish Kumar's JD(U).
The party had garnered 2.56 per cent of total votes polled in 2015.
The BSP had contested 228 of the state's 243 seats but failed to open its account. It managed to pocket 2.7 per cent votes.
Kushwaha's decision to float a new front ahead of the elections prompted several prominent RLSP leaders to quit the party.
Its Bihar unit chief Bhudev Chaudhary joined the RJD, while national general secretary and spokesperson Madhaw Anand resigned from the party.
Kushwaha, however, appeared unflappable by the desertions. 'It is better that people are leaving the ship before it sails deep into the sea,' he said. PTI DR SNS SK SK