Patna: Hours before a gathering of the ruling NDA here, one of its constituent, the RLSP, struck a discordant note with its leader Upendra Kushwaha excusing himself from attending the meeting and a party leader demanding that the next Bihar polls be fought under Kushwaha's leadership.
The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party also disapproved of JD(U) assertion that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the "face" of the NDA in Bihar and put forward a view that the decision about the leadership should be taken after a consensus among coalition partners instead of one party "imposing" its views.
The Bihar assembly polls must be fought under Kushwaha's leadership, RLSP working president Nagamani said.
"This is because he is the leader of a community which is the largest, after the Yadavs, among OBCs. Kushwahas account for about 10 per cent of the total population in the state."
The RLSP leader's statement came shortly before Kushwaha, who is the party's founder and national president, communicated to state BJP president Nityanand Rai via telephone that he would not be able to attend the NDA meeting this evening.
Kushwaha said he was occupied elsewhere and hence would not be able to attend the NDA meeting. But much should not be read into this as he has assured that other leaders of RLSP would be attending the meeting, Rai told reporters.
BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP are constituents of the NDA in Bihar.
A former Kumar loyalist, Kushwaha quit the JD(U) in 2013 when he was a Rajya Sabha member, months after having been suspended from the party on disciplinary grounds.
He went on to form his own party and joined the BJP-led NDA. Riding the strong Narendra Modi wave in 2014, his party won three Lok Sabha seats and he became the Minister of State for Human Resource Development.
However, his party did poorly in the assembly polls a month later, managing to win only two seats. He has reportedly been sulking over his diminished stature in the NDA since Kumar returned to the coalition last year.
The NDA gathering is first since Kumar returned to the coalition after dumping the Grand Alliance with the RJD and the Congress in July last year.