Amid NDA’s unity bid in Bihar, RLSP ups the ante, wants its leader Upendra Kushwaha as CM face
The dinner meeting, the first such effort by Bihar’s four NDA constituents after CM and JD(U) president Nitish’s return to the alliance in July last, was overshadowed by Kushwaha’s absence.
PATNA: Efforts by Bihar’s ruling NDA to hold a show of unity in a dinner meeting on Thursday received a setback as key ally RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha stayed off the event even as one of his top aides openly said he (Kushwaha) should be declared NDA’s chief ministerial candidate in the state.
The dinner meeting, the first such effort by Bihar’s four NDA constituents after Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar’s return to the alliance in July last, was overshadowed by Kushwaha’s absence. The meeting was attended by several top leaders of NDA in the state, including Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi of BJP, and LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
While Kushwaha, said to be unhappy about Kumar’s projection as NDA’s face in Bihar in next year’s Lok Sabha polls, gave the event a miss, several leaders of his party attended the meeting and dinner. Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) working president Nagmani, party MP Ram Kumar Sharma, state unit chief Bhudeo Choudhary and spokesperson Abhayanand Suman were among them.
“He (Kushwaha) could not attend this meeting because he, as a Union minister, was busy with government work. He asked all of us, the leaders of the party, to attend this event,” said Sharma. Sources said Kushwaha had earlier informed Bihar BJP state president Nityanand Rai of his decision to skip the dinner meeting.
While the meeting, convened by BJP, aimed at ensuring greater coherence among Bihar’s four NDA constituents – BJP, JD(U), LJP and RLSP – before the crucial seat-sharing talks for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, RLSP queered the pitch by demanding that Kushwaha be projected as NDA’s CM candidate in the state.
“If NDA has to win the Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly polls in Bihar, then Upendra Kushwaha has to be declared as the alliance’s CM candidate. No government can be formed in Bihar without RLSP and Upendra Kushwaha,” said the party’s working president Nagmani hours before the NDA’s dinner meeting began.
Nagmani, a former Union minister, had last year made people attending an RLSP-organised rally for education reforms stand on one leg and recite the vow to make Kushwaha the next CM of Bihar.
“Nitish Kumar was not born as Bihar CM, nor will he continue forever,” said Nagmani. “After BJP, it is RLSP that has the largest support base in Bihar. After the Yadavs, the Kushwaha community has the largest 10 per cent population in the state. Upendra Kushwaha is their undisputed leader and also has the support of Dalits, Muslims and the upper castes,” added Nagmani.