PATNA: Former union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Wednesday kept his cards close to the chest when asked about his much-speculated return to the NDA, but said the "future course" will be announced after a meeting of his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party scheduled next week.
The RLSP chief dodged queries about his numerous meetings, in the recent past, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his former mentor, whom he had revolted against a decade ago quitting the JD(U) and charting out his own path.
Kumar, on his part, replied with a cryptic "lets see" when he was asked elsewhere by journalists about the cornered Kushwahas possible return under his wing.
Kushwaha, who celebrated his partys ninth foundation day, told reporters "our partys national and state executives will meet here on March 13-14. The future course will be decided thereafter".
About his meetings with the chief minister, he quipped with a tinge of mischief "why do you want to stop me from meeting him".
However, to a pointed query about reports in a section of the media that the RLSP was all set to "merge" with the JD(U), Kushwaha said testily "it is you people who write such stuff. Only you can shed more light on this".
When pointed out that veteran JD(U) leader Vashishtha Narayan Singh has also said that Kushwaha was all set for a return to the NDA, Kushwaha replied "he is a senior leader. I cannot comment on him. I can speak about only what I have myself said in the past".
Kushwaha, who was then a JD(U) Rajya Sabha member, had parted ways in 2013 and floated his own outfit.
The BJP, which was in search of allies in Bihar after being dumped by Nitish Kumar, readily accepted the RLSP into its fold a year later.
The fledgling party won all the three Lok Sabha seats it contested, riding the Modi wave and Kushwaha, elected from Karakat, won a berth in the Union council of ministers.
He grew uneasy in the NDA a few years later and crossed over to the Grand Alliance on the eve of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, quitting his ministerial berth.
The five-party grand alliance fared miserably in the elections and the RLSP chief, who also suffered the mortification of both his MLAs and sole MLC joining the JD(U), burnt his bridges with the Congress-RJD combine ahead of the assembly polls last year.
He fought the elections as part of an alliance comprising, among others, Asaduddin Owaisis AIMIM and Mayawatis BSP.
The RLSP drew a blank though its leader was declared the "Chief Ministerial candidate".
Kushwaha and Kumar are understood to have agreed upon a mutually beneficial realignment.
The RLSP chief badly needs an opportunity to come out of political wilderness.
The chief minister, who has been outperformed by the BJP in elections, is now busy consolidating his grip over the "Luv Kush" combination, a colloquial term for OBC Kurmis and Koeris who have stood by Kumars side in the worst of times.