Bihar political churning: RLSP to decide on merger with JD (U) on March 13
- Kushwaha did not say anything on merger but recalled his association with JD(U) MP Bashistha Narain Singh and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Former Janata Dal (United) state president and Rajya Sabha MP Bashistha Narain Singh and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) president and former union minister Upendra Kushwaha, walked hand in hand to take Covid vaccination at Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna on Monday, a gesture full of symbolism and political churning in Bihar.
Kushwaha took the first dose of Covid vaccination along with Singh. Soon after, party leaders claimed, chief minister Nitish Kumar congratulated both for taking the vaccine.
This has set the political circles agog with now certain merger of the RLSP with the JD(U). The RLSP has convened a meeting of party office-bearers on March 13 and 14 to take the final call. A senior RLSP leader said that Kushwaha held a meeting with his party leaders on Monday as many RLSP leaders left the party after talk of Kushwaha’s growing ‘proximity’ with JD(U) started.
Singh, one of the senior most JD (U) leaders, has been negotiating with Kushwaha for the possible merger of the party. Kushwaha had a series of meetings with chief minister Kumar in the last three months, the last one being two days back in which CM, Kushwaha and Singh were present.
Several RLSP and JD(U) leaders said on condition of anonymity that the modalities of merger along with Kushwaha’s new role has been decided. Kushwaha may also be given a seat in the legislative council, they added.
“Very soon he will come. Let us assume that he is with us from today. He was, is and will remain close to us,” said Singh of Kushwaha, while talking to the media.
Kushwaha, on his part, did not say anything on merger but recalled his association with Singh and Kumar. “I have an old association with dada (as Singh is fondly called in political circles). I have been with him since I joined politics and will remain with him in future as well,” he said. “I have a personal relationship with Nitish Kumar and have worked with him,” Kushwaha said.
JD(U) leaders believe that RLSP merger will suit both sides, particularly since the JD(U) is finding itself on the back foot with the BJP asserting itself in the government.
The Kushwaha-led party has a sizable support among the Kushwaha voters and its exit from the NDA fold cost JD(U) its traditional votes. Kushwaha had been to assembly and Rajya Sabha on a JD(U) ticket. The RLSP quit the NDA in December 2018 after the BJP refused to offer more than two seats to the RLSP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections even as it went out of the way to accommodate Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).