Bihar: Upendra Kushwaha Quits JD-U, Will Form new Political Party
Image Courtesy: PTI
Patna: Ending weeks of speculation, Upendra Kushwaha, who revolted against Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) top boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Monday quit the ruling party and announced he will form a new political party. This latest political development has come on the expected line as Kushwaha had made up his mind last month itself to end his nearly two-year-old relationship with JD-U if his repeated statements targetting Kumar and party national president Lalan Singh were clues.
Former Union minister Kushwaha told the media here that after discussions with hundreds of his supporters from across the state on Sunday and Monday, he has decided to quit JD-U and form a new party. “It was decided unanimously in the meeting to form a new party - Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal. It is the real JD-U and will carry the legacy of social justice and this party will work to save Bihar from the return of jungle raj,” he said.
Early this month, Kushwaha wrote an open letter to the party’s 75 lakh workers in which he raised the issue of a “special deal” of the party with RJD for the formation of the Mahagathbandhan-led government in August last year and invited them for a discussion on it on February 19-20 in Patna. However, none of the JD-U MPs, MLAs, MLCs or any other senior leader joined him, except party workers close to him and a few former MLAs and MLCs.
To date, Kushwaha has failed to get any support within the JD-U despite his repeated claim since last month that he was worried about the weakening of JD-U and wanted to strengthen the party.
Kushwaha said he has informed about his decision to Kumar and Singh and resigned as a member of the legislative council (MLC ). “Now, a new political inning starts today for me. We will take forward the legacy of Karpoori Thakur, a socialist icon,” he said.
Kushwaha said Kumar has no card in his hands as he lost political earnings, and there is nothing left with him.
Kushwaha reiterated that he was against Kumar’s bid to promote Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav as the leader of the ruling Mahagathbandhan for the 2025 Bihar Assembly polls and will continue to oppose him.
Kushwaha is said to be upset with Kumar for not promoting him on par with Tejashwi.
“Kumar is no longer acting on his own as he used to; now he acts on suggestions of a coterie around him and he is helpless. He failed to groom a successor who could have helped him, and now, he is wrongly promoting one from another party (Tejashwi),” said Kushwaha, an old associate of Kumar since the days of the Samata Party in the mid-90s, expressing his anguish over Kumar neglecting him as a successor.
Earlier, after demanding JD-U leadership to reveal the “deal” with its main ally RJD, Kushwaha had made it clear that he was against Kumar’s bid to promote Tejashwi. He suggested Kumar promotes a party leader (JD-U) belonging to marginalised sections (OBCs, EBCs and Dalits) in place of Tejashwi as the next CM. “If Kumar promotes Tejashwi in place of a JD-U leader, the party is bound to sink. The party will be weakened further. Kumar should explain to party leaders and workers what the compulsion is to promote a leader of an ally instead of own party leader for a future role.”
Kushwaha was not comfortable in the JD-U, which was evident in the way he has raised this question and targeted Kumar. He was disappointed after being sidelined, and with Kumar, who failed to fulfil “promises” when Kushwaha merged his party, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), with the JD-U in 2021.
Kushwaha, an Other Backward Class (OBC) leader belonging to the powerful Koeri community, had protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and vowed to stand for secularism and social justice. He was seen as an emerging leader after he resigned from the Narendra Modi cabinet a few years ago.
Ironically, Kushwaha’s RLSP performed poorly in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. His best performance was in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when his party won three seats as a part of the NDA.
The Koeri community is the largest social group after Lalu Prasad Yadav’s caste (Yadavs) group in Bihar.
As per political stories doing the rounds in the state, BJP is hoping Kushwaha will join hands with the NDA to minimise the loss of Kumar’s 16% popular votes in the next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
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