It was widely expected that Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha would announce a split with the BJP-led NDA on Thursday. No such decision however came even as the Bihar leader openly took on the BJP over the Ram Mandir issue.

Kushwaha slammed the BJP move to raise the issue of Ram temple construction at the election time and declared to oppose it tooth and nail. The RLSP chief had been, of late, targeting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his speeches, but this was for the first time that he directly hit out at the BJP leadership at his party meeting, indicating there was just no love lost between the NDA partners.

Kushwaha alleged the BJP was raising the emotive issue of temple construction only to divert the people’s attention from real issues, such price rise, unemployment and poverty. “Had their (BJP) intention fair, they would not have raked up the temple issue at the election time,” Kushwaha said while addressing the open session of his party on Thursday at the end of its three-day “Chintan Shivir” organised at Valmikinagar in West Champaran.

He said temple construction was not the duty of any political party, rather it should focus on serving the common men.

“I am not opposed to constructing temples or mosques but this should be done under the purview of the Constitution,” he declared, alleging such issues were being intentionally raised to “polarize” votes ahead of the upcoming LS polls. He said there should not be any politics over Ram temple construction. He alleged the BJP leadership had surrendered before chief minister Nitish Kumar and termed the BJP leadership as “joomlebaaz”. He also reminded the old speech of chief minister wherein he was heard calling the BJP as “Bhartiya Joomla Party”.

According to him, the chief minister has built up his new organsiation with the help of some “power-greedy ” BJP leaders, and declared to uproot the “inefficient” NDA government in the state.

Turning to the Bihar government, he then launched virulent attacks on the chief minister for destroying the education system and failing to maintain law and order situation in the state. He alleged the present situation in Bihar is even worse than those witnessed during the previous RJD rule adding the CM doesn’t mention ‘sushasan’ in his speeches any more. “Jispar bharosa kiya wo kamyab nahin hua. Rajniti mein kyun aaye lagta hai?” he said.

Most RLSP leaders were in favour of Kushwaha announcing the split on Thursday, but he did not say anything in this regard. According to reports, the party’s seat-sharing deal with the RJD is not sealed yet. They are also learnt to be trying to seek time from Congress president Rahul Gandhi to finalise a strategy.