Upendra Kushwaha downplays skipping NDA meeting
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“Amit Shah [BJP president] also did not attend the NDA’s dinner meeting in Patna…why is nobody asking about his absence there?”, asked Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and Union Minister of State Upendra Kushwaha on Friday after reaching Patna. On Thursday Mr. Kushwaha skipped the crucial NDA meet meant to put up a “united front” amid discordant voices from alliance partners.Speaking to the media at the airport, Mr. Kushwaha expressed surprise over why so much importance was given to his absence at the event, when it was for the party leaders and workers.“It was due to some personal reasons I could not attend the event but my party leaders did,” said Mr. Kushwaha. Before leaving for his Parliamentary constituency Karakat in Rohtas district, he also asserted that there was no discontent in the NDA in Bihar.Also read: BJP’s ally troubles — Upendra Kushwaha skips NDA dinner meeting“I’m not unhappy or displeased with the NDA as is being speculated…NDA is united and intact,” he said. Though, he also confirmed that he would not be attending the iftar party hosted by senior Bihar BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.Mr. Kushwaha evaded a question on his party’s senior leader Nagamani’s statement ahead of the NDA meeting that the alliance should declare him (Kushwaha) as its leader in the Assembly poll in 2020. “You should pose this question to Mr. Nagamani,” Mr. Kushwaha said.Mr. Nagamani, who is national working president of the RLSP, had said that his party chief “represents a caste group which comprised 10% of Bihar’s total population which is next only to the Yadavs and hence his projection as the NDA’s leader would benefit the coalition.”Meanwhile, taking a dig at Mr. Kushwaha’s absence, RJD Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesperson Manoj Jha said, “What is happening in the NDA shows there is a tectonic shift in Indian politics as the common man sees himself pitted against the arrogant BJP… leaders like Mr. Kushwaha have begun to do a rethink over their alliance with the BJP and many more would follow suit in the near future.”RJD alliance partner and leader of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi invited Mr. Kushwaha to join the RJD-led Grand Alliance but not with his demand “to be the CM candidate as this position is already reserved for Tejashwi Yadav.”Mr. Kushwaha had met RJD chief Lalu Prasad when he was admitted in the AIIMS in Delhi and the meeting had triggered speculation about Mr. Kushwaha’s future moves.