Is Nitish-Kushwaha fallout imminent in Bihar?

Kushwaha has categorically denied any possibility of him joining the BJP.

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By: Santosh Singh | Patna (Bihar)
Updated: 23 January, 2023 7:17 pm IST
JDU parliamentary board president Upendra Kushwaha and party supremo Nitish Kumar are at loggerhead.

The political differences between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his party’s parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha seem to be widening — with both accusing each other of attempting to forge ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The war of words between the two senior state leaders started after three BJP leaders called on Kushwaha at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he was admitted for a routine check-up last week.

The speculations regarding Kushwaha’s next political move took off when Bihar BJP functionaries Prem Ranjan Patel, Sanjay Tiger and Yogendra Paswan posted photos of their meeting with the former Union minister on social media on January 20.

On the next day, when reporters fired questions regarding Kushwaha’s meeting with BJP leaders, Kumar said, “Everybody has the right to chart their own path. Kushwaha has parted ways and returned to (Janata Dal-United) several times in the past.”

“He is not well. Let him come back. I’ll speak to him… Please ask Kushwaha to speak to me,” said the chief minister, who is expected to step down to make way for Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav later this year.

Upendra, who first revolted against his boss in 2013 by giving up his Rajya Sabha seat and floating a new outfit named Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), hit back at CM Kumar upon his return to the state capital Patna. The Kushwaha community leader said that leaders senior to him in the party – in a reference to JDU chief Lalan Singh and the chief minister – were in touch with the BJP.

“It seems people are still not confident about me even after two years of the merger of my party into the JDU,” a furious Kushwaha told reporters, likening talks of him joining the BJP with his “postmortem examination”.

Kushwaha merged his RLSP with the JDU in March 2021, stating that there was a need for all like-minded parties to unite to stop the BJP juggernaut.

The political tension escalated further on Monday when an angry Nitish vented out his ire publicly against Kushwaha in Patna. When reporters asked about Kushwaha’s statement, he said, “Only he can answers who all are in touch with the BJP, please ask him. Upendra Kushwaha may speak as he pleases. You people listen to him and publish.”

RLSP joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ahead of the 2014 general elections and won three seats. As a reward, he was made the Union minister of state for human resource development (HRD) and exited the NDA in December 2018.

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