RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday termed the NDA's seat sharing in Bihar a "knee-jerk reaction" to the RLSP joining the Grand Alliance, and said the BJP-led grouping would draw a blank in the state in Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Yadav, joined by Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha, representatives of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Congress' Narendra Kumar, launched a blistering attack on the NDA.
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Yadav, whose RJD is the largest constituent in the Grand Alliance, asserted the NDA had been rattled by the exit of RLSP, which forced it to announce the number of seats to be fought by each alliance partner "without identifying seats for different constituents".
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The RLSP chief who quit the NDA on December 10 took a jab at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by accusing him of "surrendering" before Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar.
Earlier in the day, he had tweeted, "The 56-inch chest appears to have shrunken to 36 inches".
At a joint press conference in New Delhi, BJP chief Amit Shah, the JD(U) president and Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had announced that the BJP and the JD(U) would fight for 17 LS seats each in the state and the LJP would contest the remaining six, besides a Rajya Sabha berth for Paswan, who has not been keeping well for some time.
"The BJP had won 22 seats in 2014 and it is now contesting only 17 seats. JD(U) had won only two but is getting 17. Such an arrangement shows how confident the NDA is," Yadav said.
Amit Shah had earlier announced, in the presence of Nitish Kumar, that their respective parties would be contesting an equal number of seats and that the actual number would be announced within two to three days, Yadav said.
"It took them two months. They were rattled by the exit of Kushwaha and they have come up with a knee-jerk reaction," the RJD heir apparent said.
He, however, remained guarded on the issue of seat sharing in the Grand Alliance, saying, "We will sit together and decide the issue very easily as to which party would contest how many seats."
When pressed further, he said, "I will not utter anything (more) on the issue."
Kushwaha's exit had coincided with the BJP's loss of power in its strongholds of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Shortly afterwards, the LJP chief's son Chirag Paswan made a number of remarks hinting that he was unhappy with the BJP leadership, triggering speculations that the NDA in Bihar was on the verge of coming apart.
Kushwaha reiterated that the NDA will not be able to open its account in Bihar in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He said, "Those joining the Grand Alliance know the pulse of the people and both central and state governments.
"What Ram Vilas Paswan has done tells the story as to what will happen in 2019. Paswan knows they (NDA) will not be able to win a single seat, so he has secured a Rajya Sabha seat for himself. I congratulate him in advance."
The Grand Alliance partners had come together on the day to induct a new entrant into the opposition coalition, Mukesh Sahni's Vikashsheel Insaan Party (VIP).
"One more party, Mukesh Sahni's VIP, is joining the Grand Alliance in Bihar. This shows that the Grand Alliance's strength is increasing. The BJP-led NDA will not be able to open its account in the Lok Sabha polls (here)," said Yadav, the leader of the Bihar assembly.
A former Bollywood set designer, Sahni was earlier being wooed by the NDA. His entry has provided a shot in the arm to the 'Mahagathbandhan', which is also expected to reach an electoral understanding with the Left parties.
Speaking on the occasion, VIP's Sahni said, "I am a newcomer in politics but I am quite confident that the NDA will not be able to cross the double digit mark (in seats) in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, failing which I will retire from politics."
He said the NDA failed to fulfill its promise to include Nishad, Mallah, Nonia communities in the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes category.
Sahni is said to have influence among his caste men -- Mallah, a fishermen community.
Abdul Bari Siddiqui and Ram Chandra Purbe of the RJD also attended Sahni's welcoming ceremony into the Grand Alliance.