Marginalised in Grand Alliance in Bihar, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP preps to exit
Former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday stopped short of announcing RLSP’s exit from the Grand Alliance saying “we are left with little option but to explore a new political course, unless the RJD changes immediately its rigid stance on leadership issue” ahead of the Bihar assembly elections.
After being unanimously authorized by national and state level office bearers for taking a call on RLSP’s continuation in the GA, Kushwaha said “neither the number of seats being offered to RLSP nor the manner in which our overtures have been cold shouldered is pushing us to take such a stance. Rather, its people desire to see a democratically chosen CM face in the GA, who can at least stand up before Nitish Kumar as an alternate, is forcing us to rethink.”
Kushwaha, whose party is fighting for survival in the face of being squeezed down in matters of seat sharing and the demand for having a consensus on CM’s face in the GA, said that even if all alliance partners decided to stand behind the leadership, being ‘nursed’ by the RJD, it does not seem possible to achieve the change “we desired to deliver.”
Explaining that if the possibility for bringing about a change was there in the scheme of things, even at the cost of fewer seats that would have our way as part of seat sharing, Kushwaha said “I would have walked the extra mile to placate our fellow workers that the cost was worth bearing in larger interest. But, despite the desire to stay in the GA, the public feelers are pushing us in a different direction. If the RJD scales down its rigid stance on the leadership issue, I am still ready to mollify workers, who are upset by the treatment meted out to the party.”
Kushwaha’s tough stand comes after former chief minister and HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi walked out of the GA, only to mend fences with his bête noire and former mentor Nitish Kumar. Manjhi, who also nursed the ambition to be declared as the consensus CM candidate in the GA and raised questions regarding the leadership capability to Tejashwi Prasad Yadav after the GA’s debacle in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
That all is not well in the GA became evident, after RLSP tried to push for 35 seats as part of seat sharing but the RJD, it is learnt, was not willing to offer it any more than a dozen. “If the alliance had considered seniority and adopted a democratic process in the selection of CM face for the GA, RLSP would have surely conceded on a lower number of seats,” said a RLSP leader, requesting not to be quoted at this juncture.
“The party had spearheaded agitation for reforms in education, health, agriculture, employment, etc., when none of the Opposition parties took it up as worthy causes. Now with these issues acquiring importance, they are trying to hijack it and push the party in a corner. It is not palatable for the majority of party workers, who were pressuring the leadership to explore the option of ‘going solo’ or consider being part of the third front,” he added.
With the authorization from cadres, the RLSP chief is now free to take a call on the future course of action. The party’s continuation in the GA without being the chief ministerial face and a small number of seats being offered in the elections seems likely to end soon.
“The RLSP has the option to weigh its options for mending fences with the BJP, after another GA partner HAM tied-up with JD (U), “ said a party insider, quoting BJP former union minister Sanjay Paswan’s comment welcoming his return to the NDA camp.