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Upendra Kushwaha quits JD(U) again, floats yet another party

PATNA: Disgruntled JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha on Monday resigned from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), less than two years after returning to the party, and announced formation of the ‘Rashtriya Loktantrik Janata Dal’.

JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias “Lalan”, however, berated the former parliamentary board chairman as an over-ambitious party-hopper, whose return was “opposed by all, but materialised only at the insistence of the CM” whom Kushwaha had assured “I will now live and die here”.

Kushwaha, who has been venting spleen against Kumar for some time, also announced that he will be seeking an appointment with chairman of the legislative council to resign from his membership of the House, adding with rhetorical flourish “‘zameer bechkar amir nahin banenge’ (I cannot barter my conscience for perks)”.

He alleged that Kumar, his political benefactor, had “pawned his political capital (‘rajneetik sampatti ko girwi rakh diya’) by having hinted that Tejashwi Yadav (the deputy CM) shall be the future leader of the coalition”, which JD(U) had joined nearly six months ago.

Lalan, however, pointed out that Kushwaha, who then headed the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), had aligned with the RJD after quitting the NDA in 2018, “and he appeared to be fine with Tejashwi Yadav back then”.

The JD(U) chief also rubbished Kushwaha’s allegation that Kumar, the party’s de facto leader, no more exercised his own judgement, but acted on the advice of a coterie with vested interests.

“Had it been so, Kushwaha could have never returned to the JD(U) in 2021. Not a single person was in favour of his return, since all knew about his vaulting ambition that causes him to go astray. But, the CM put his foot down since he trusted Kushwaha’s declamation – ‘jeena marna ab sab yaheen hai’,” Lalan said.

“The problem is Kushwaha cannot think of anything less than the chief minister’s chair for himself. This had led him to quit the NDA and fancy his chances with the RJD-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’.

“He could not stay there as well and ahead of 2020 assembly polls, he formed a hurried coalition with Mayawati’s BSP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM just because these parties agreed to announce him the chief ministerial candidate,” the JD(U) chief said.

May Kushwaha last long enough wherever he now goes, though this seems unlikely because of the “deformation” his personality has undergone due to “uncontrollable ambition”, Lalan added, mockingly.

Kushwaha minced no words while giving vent to his frustration over Yadav taking centre-stage, but maintained, “I would have been okay with Kumar not projecting me as the future leader had he chosen anybody from within the party, belonging to the ‘Luv Kush’ samaj (Kurmis and Koeris) or the Extremely Backward Classes who form the JD(U)’s support base.” The former Union minister, who had resigned from the Narendra Modi government shortly ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, remained evasive on the question of a possible realignment with the BJP.

“I have learnt some lessons from big brother Nitish Kumar”, Kushwaha remarked cryptically, referring to the chief minister’s resignation in 2017 when he had walked out of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and formed a new government with the NDA hours later.

Kushwaha also admitted that he would now seek to galvanise disgruntled elements in the JD(U), which he had last quit in 2013 to float RLSP, only to merge it back eight years later.

He had been striking notes of discord ever since the CM made it clear that he intended to have nobody, besides Yadav, as his deputy.

This was followed, shortly afterwards, by a visit to Delhi of Kushwaha apparently for medical reasons, and photographs of lower-rung BJP leaders meeting him at hospital had gone viral on social media.

Kumar has since made it clear that Kushwaha had become a persona non grata, “free to go wherever he pleases, as soon as he wishes” while underscoring the “respect” the latter was given in the JD(U). Meanwhile, the BJP on Monday claimed that the formation of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Janata Dal by Kushwaha was “the first major revolt” in the JD(U).

Senior BJP leader and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said in a statement that the development marked “ulti ginti” (countdown) for the “weak” chief minister, who might not be able to prevent his party from “disintegrating” (‘vighatan’).

Sushil Modi claimed that “most MLAs of the JD(U)” were dissatisfied with Kumar having virtually declared current deputy Tejashwi Yadav, of the RJD, as his political successor, though “for fear of disqualification, none of the legislators is willing to speak up”.

The former deputy CM, who is not known to enjoy good equations with Kushwaha, refrained from saying anything on the possibility of the latter’s return to the NDA.

However, state BJP spokesman and OBC Morcha national general secretary Nikhil Anand issued a statement, calling Kushwaha “morally and ideologically superior” to Nitish Kumar and forecasting that the JD(U) might “merge” with the fledgling RLJD.

Kushwaha had returned to the JD(U) in March, 2021, merging the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party that he then headed. His return was then seen as an effort on part of Kumar to consolidate the ‘Kurmi-Koeri’ base in the aftermath of the party’s drubbing in the 2020 assembly polls.

Although he has not revealed his cards with regard to future alliances, Kushwaha spoke of his intent to galvanise ‘Luv-Kush’ (Kurmis and Koeris) and the “ati pichhda” (extremely backward classes), believed to be not very comfortable with the RJD, founded and headed by Lalu Prasad, who is often accused of partisanship towards the Yadavs.

Kushwaha’s exit from the JD(U) earlier marked the third occasion when he broke away and floated a new outfit.

When he was first suspended from the JD(U) in 2007, he floated the Rashtriya Samata Party, which remained in existence till he was re-admitted to the parent party by Kumar in 2009. A year later, he was sent to the Rajya Sabha on a JD(U) ticket, but suspended after three years on charges of indiscipline.

Faced with imminent disqualification, he resigned his Rajya Sabha membership in 2013 and floated the RLSP, which was accommodated by the BJP-led NDA.

Riding the ‘Modi wave’ of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the RLSP fought and won three seats, including Karakat from where Kushwaha made his debut in the Lower House and also got inducted into the Union council of ministers.

Within a year, though, the RLSP underwent a split and Jehanabad MP Arun Kumar got his faction recognised as a separate party. Kushwaha’s own stock in the NDA in Bihar took a beating with the return of Nitish Kumar in 2017.

After a lot of dilly-dallying, Kushwaha finally quit the NDA and his ministerial berth barely a few months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and tied up with the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, which then comprised the RJD, Congress and a couple of smaller parties.

The general elections saw the RLSP drawing a blank with Kushwaha himself failing to retain Karakat and getting trounced by BJP’s Nityanand Rai in Ujiyarpur. The RLSP then had two MLAs and one MLC in the state, all of whom saw the writing on the wall and merged with the JD(U).

A year later, just ahead of the assembly polls, Kushwaha quit th’Mahagathbandhan’, which won over the Left and went on to put up an impressive fight.

The RLSP chief, on the other hand, hurriedly cobbled an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, neither of which had much of a stake in Bihar, and hence readily agreed to declare Kushwaha the motley grouping’s “chief ministerial candidate”.

The RLSP drew a blank, despite contesting 99 seats, even as AIMIM went on to win five and one was bagged by the BSP.

Four MLAs of the AIMIM are now in the RJD, one of them in the ministry, while the lone BSP MLA joined the JD(U) and was rewarded with a cabinet berth.

Source: Press Trust of India

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