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New Delhi, Oct 30: Union minister and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha Tuesday said he was ready to follow BJP president Amit Shah's call asking allies to "sacrifice" their number of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar but asked why his party was not made a partner in the Nitish Kumar-led government.
The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief, whose meeting with RJD's Tejashwi Yadav last week sparked speculation over his future course of action, said he wanted a "respectable" number of seats to fight in the state. Kushwaha, who met BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, made it clear that a final seat-sharing deal has not been clinched yet but dropped hints to suggest he may remain part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
"I have said it that it is in the interest of the country that Narendra Modi is elected prime minister for another term. I will be working for this," the minister of state for HRD told reporters. However, his differences with Janata Dal (United) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar came to the fore as he aired his anguish at his party not being offered a ministerial post in the state government after Kumar joined the NDA last year.
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"We are ready for sacrifice," he said, referring to Shah's comments last week that the BJP's two allies, the Lok Janshakti Party and the RLSP, will have to agree to fight on a fewer number of seats in 2019 than they did in the 2014 polls to accommodate the JD(U). "Partnership should be equal in profit as well as loss," he said. While BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP had joined Kumar's government, the RLSP had not. His talks with Yadav were "good and cordial", he said, adding that he had expressed his sentiments to the BJP leader, who is the saffron party's in-charge for Bihar.
If needed he will meet Shah and also Prime Minister Modi to clinch a respectable deal for his party, he said. Sources said the BJP has offered two seats to Kushwaha, whose party contested three seats in 2014 and won them all.
Though he has not spoken about the number of seats he wanted to contest, his party leaders have been seeking a larger share than 2014. The RLSP leader played down his differences with Kumar when questioned and referred to him as his "elder brother". He said it was a coincidence that he met RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav the same day Shah met Kumar and announced that the BJP and the JD(U) will fight on equal number of seats in Bihar.
"We both happened to stay in the government's circuit house following our respective events in Arwal (Bihar). Tejashwi Yadav came to my room. There was nothing political," he said, adding that they held no private talks and many people were there. With contours of seat-sharing arrangement still evolving, sources said the BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP will contest around 16, 16, five and two seats respectively. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats. Kushwaha also announced the names of his party's candidates for 66 seats in the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls and said more will follow.