By MANOJ CHAURASIA
PATNA: Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and union minister Upendra Kushwaha has kept everyone guessing for the past several weeks over his next political move.
At one moment, he looks headed towards the opposition Grand Alliance but the very next moment he is seen drawing his feet back and seeking solace in the company of the BJP which increased his political stature by inducting into the Union cabinet.
On Tuesday again he kept the media people on tenterhooks for quite two hours.
The local media began running stories about Kushwaha’s possible exit from the NDA when he announced to hold a Press conference in Delhi.
What had led to such speculation was the development wherein the RLSP chief was seen meeting BJP’s Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav, instead of party chief Amit Shah. This came after the RLSP leadership expressing anger in public for being offered just two seats by the BJP.
This was interpreted as Shah’s move to maintain distance from the revolting Kushwaha.
Around the same time, RLSP’s national acting president Nagmani started launching attacks on the BJP for “underestimating” the RLJP which, according to him, commands 10 percents of votes and instead giving too many seats to the chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U which enjoys “barely 1.5 percent support base”.
Such was the excitements to know the result that the media people began firing questions at Kushwaha while he had just taken his seat and has not formally started his Press conference.
Eventually, the journalists were left hugely “disappointed” when Kushwaha announced his party plan to go it alone in Madhya Pradesh state elections.
Then he switched over to the seat-sharing issue but didn’t express annoyance over the BJP leadership although he said the final decision about distribution of seats has not been taken yet.
Although he said his party wants “respectable” number of seats from the BJP, he refused to divulge how many seats he as such wants.
“The issue of seat-sharing is not discussed in the media and that he can’t share just every issue with the Press,” he said bluntly.
At the same time he added he had positive talks with the BJP leadership so far and he could even meet the Prime Minister if the situation warranted so, indicating trouble in the NDA.
That all is not well in the NDA can very well be explained from the fact that the BJP is yet to make distribution of seats among its allies although Shah had on Friday announced to complete the process within the next “2-3 days”.
Kushwaha had dropped another such hints about dumping the NDA when he met RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in the Arwal circuit House right on the day BJP and the JD-U had announced to contest equal number of seats in Bihar. But yesterday Kushwaha claimed it was Tejashwi who had met him, and not he.
He had displayed dissension within the ruling alliance earlier when he chose to stay away from the NDA meet held in Patna in June this year to discuss poll strategy.
This came shortly after he had had paid a visit to AIIMS-Delhi to meet ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Although he described it a “courtesy” visit, their meeting hinted much about the new political equation in the offing in Bihar as it came shortly after the RJD had actively participated in RLSP’s human chain programme for reforms in then existing education system in the state.
Strangely, none from the NDA had joined Kushwaha’s programme—not even the JD-U although the RLSP had supported Kumar’s human chain programme again dowry and child marriage.
Earlier in August too Kushwaha hinted about dumping the NDA by talking “Kheer politics” wherein he indicated about joining hands with the RJD soon.
What led to this speculations was his remarks at a public function in Patna where he said: “Yadivanshion ka dudh aur Kushvansion ka chawal mil jaye to uttam kheer ban sakti hai lekin yah tab tak swadist nahin hogi jab tak isme chhoti jati aaur dabe-kuchale samaj ka panchmeva nahin padega (Milk from Yadavs and rice from Kushwahas can make a good sweet dish but it won’t be tasty until the dry fruits of small and downtrodden communities are mixed).”
The very next day, however, he clarified he had neither sought milk from the Yadavs nor sugar from the BJP.
“Rather, I have sought support of all sections of the society. Please don’t try to link any caste/ community with a particular party,” Kushwaha explained.
Is Kushwaha confused or playing smart politics? “No, he is blackmailing both the NDA and the Grand Alliance,” says Jitan Ram Manjhi, former Bihar chief minister.
(The author is the State Bureau Chief of The Statesman based at Patna)