Upendra Kushwaha returns home to JD (U), merges RLSP with Nitish Kumar’s party

  • Upendra Kushwaha had left the JD (U) in 2013 and formed the RLSP that year
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar felicitates RLSP President Upendra Kushwaha after the party merged with JD(U) in Patna on Sunday.(PTI)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar felicitates RLSP President Upendra Kushwaha after the party merged with JD(U) in Patna on Sunday.(PTI)
Published on Mar 14, 2021 04:48 PM IST
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By Vijay Swaroop, Hindustan Times, Patna

After months of speculation, Upendra Kushwaha merged his Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) with the Janata Dal (United) in the presence of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday.

Kushwaha had left the JD (U) in 2013 and formed the RLSP that year.

A formal announcement about merger was made by Kushwaha himself after RLSP’s national council meeting Sunday morning. Kushwaha, later drove to the JD (U) office where he was welcomed by Kumar.

Soon after the merger, Nitish Kumar announced appointment of Kushwaha as Chairman of National Parliamentary Board of JD (U), with immediate effect.

“I am personally very happy with the development. It is a historical decision. We were together earlier and again we are back. He is a big leader and will work together for state’s development,” said Kumar, while welcoming Kushwaha back in JD (U).

“We were in talks with the RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha for quite some time. When I discussed it with my party members, they expressed their joy on his thought of merging the party with ours,” said Kumar.

Earlier in the day, Kushwaha, after the meeting of the RLSP national council announced the decision of the party to merge with the JD (U). “The entire RLSP will merge with the JD (U) from today. The decision has been taken in the interest of the state and country. Seeing the people’s mandate and the prevailing political scenario, it was decided that leaders with similar political ideology should come on one platform. This is the demand of the current political situation,” said Kushwaha.

“People’s mandate was a clear message that we should go together. This is neither going to benefit me nor Nitish Kumar. It will benefit the state and strengthen Bihar,” said Kushwaha and ruled out that any political bargaining for the merger.

Kushwaha, a former Union minister made it clear that his role in the party would be decided by Nitish Kumar. Heaping praise on Kumar, Kushwaha said, “He is my bade bhai (elder brother). I have always respected him. I will continue to serve people and party irrespective of the role assigned to me and strengthen the JD (U).”

“JD (U) is the only party which is committed to state’s development whereas some parties are more interested in their own development. I will serve under Nitish Kumar and strengthen the party,” said Kushwaha.

JD (U)'s alliance partners, the BJP and the HAM-S welcomed Kushwaha’s homecoming.

Former chief minister and HAM-S leader Jitan Ram Manjhi said that Kushwaha’s return to JD (U) is in the interest of the state and country. “He was a Union minister in NDA government. He went to Grand Alliance where he felt insulted,” said BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand.

The RJD took a dig at the merger. RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari said Nitish Kumar should handover the chief minister's position to Kushwaha. "The way BJP insulted Nitish Kumar in Bihar Assembly elections using Chirag Paswan it was obvious that it somewhere niggled Nitish Kumar as well as Upendra Khushwaha. However, it is time that "Luv" should handover the CM position to his brother Kush as 'Luv-Kush' was the base of the JD(U)'s formation, said Tiwari.

JD (U) leaders feel that the Luv-Kush unity in Bihar (a term used in reference to Kurmi and Koeri caste) can become a potent factor in revival of the JD (U). The Kushwahas and Kurmis together for nearly 12% of Bihar’s population and had been a major vote bank of Nitish Kumar.

The RLSP had exited the RJD-led grand alliance in September last year and fought the Bihar assembly election in partnership with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) but drew a blank.

Political experts, however, are not excited with the development and feel that it would hardly help JD (U) which is trying to consolidate itself.

“The reason is simple. Kushwaha has lost clout. All his community grassroot leaders have joined the RJD. The Kush (Koeri community to which Kushwaha belong) is a divided house. The message has gone loud and clear that Kushwaha is fighting for his survival,” said D M Diwakar, political analyst associated with A N Sinha Institute for Social Studies.

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Monday, October 25, 2021