Upendra Kushwaha joins United Progressive Alliance in Bihar
Kushwaha's joining the UPA is likely to give a boost to the formation of a grand alliance in Bihar to counter the NDA combine of Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal(U)-Lok Janshakti Party.
“I was getting humiliated by both Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the BJP leadership at the Centre,” Kushwaha said. “Nitishji called me ‘neech’ and even then I was willing to forgive him had he implemented my 25 demands on the education system. But nothing happened.”
“On one side, I was humiliated and on the other, Rahulji and Laluji embraced me with open arms.”
“Rahulji, within days of forming the government in three states, announced farm loan waiver. There is no difference in ‘kathni’ (promise) and ‘karni’ (delivery) of the Congress unlike the NDA.”
On August 25, Kushwaha had said: “A lot of people from Yadav samaj from across the state have gathered today. If the milk of the Yaduvanshis and the rice of Kushvanshis are mixed, it will take no time to prepare kheer.” He had said this while addressing a gathering on the birth centenary of former Bihar CM BP Mandal of the Mandal Commission fame. Kushwaha had denied the motive behind the statement then.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav welcomed Kushwaha into the grand alliance: “We welcome Kushwahaji in the grand alliance and his joining is a testimony to the fact how the BJP treats its junior partners.”
Kushwaha joined the UPA with only one MP, Ram Kumar Sharma, from Sitamarhi in Bihar. RLSP’s third MP — Arun Kumar — has already parted ways with the party. After Kushwaha announced his exit from the NDA, his two MLAs –– Lalan Paswan and Sudhanshu Shekhar — and lone MLC Sanjeev Singh Shyam in a joint statement had said they were not with Kushwaha anymore. “It is not about who came. It is the message which is important,” said Bihar Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha.
The alliance partners are yet to formalise a seat-sharing formula.
In 2014, RLSP had contested and won three Lok Sabha seats. In 2015, RLSP contested 23 assembly seats in Bihar and could win only two. In the seats it contested, the party’s vote share was 27.50%.
Kushwaha is a farming community in Bihar which predominantly grows vegetables, paddy and wheat. With around 7-8% vote share, it forms the fourth-largest caste group after Muslims (17%), SCs (15%) and Yadavs (14%). The community has a sizeable presence in around 20 Lok Sabha seats of Bihar.
“I am certain that the Kushwaha community is largely with Upendra Kushwahaji and they will vote for the grand alliance. There is a churn on the ground,” said RJD MP Manoj Jha. “It brings the farmers community back on the national circuit.”