Upendra Kushwaha – From Nitish's protégé to Modi's ally

By Tarun Khanna | Updated: Oct 23, 2015, 16:57 PM IST
Upendra Kushwaha – From Nitish's protégé to Modi's ally

He may not be a king maker or a chief ministerial pick, but Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) supremo Upendra Kushwaha can certainly make a dent in JD(U) and RJD's vote share to the benefit of his ally the BJP.

A Minister of State in PM Modi's Cabinet, 55-year-old Kushwaha had helped NDA to make inroads among backward castes voters in Bihar during 2014 General Elections.

Being a middle class Hindu Kushwaha Kshatriya himself, he represents the Kushwahas community which is the second largest backward caste grouping in Bihar, constituting around seven to eight percent of the population – a vote bank which the BJP cannot afford to ignore.

However, the BJP needs to be extra cautious while reposing trust on the RLSP leader, who is known to switch sides to suit his own agenda.

At one point, Kushwaha used to be a close associate of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and opposed the Congress. The divorce happened when Lalu allied with the Congress.

He then turned to Nitish Kumar, who made him the Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly in 2004 - in his very first outing as MLA from Jandaha in Vaishali district. But, even this friendship did not last for long and he broke up with Nitish. However, he had to return to his former mentor Nitish after his experiment with NCP as its state chief fell flat.

Nitish, who again placed trust in Kushwaha, made him a Rajya Sabha member in 2010, only to realise later that he would once again leave him.

On March 03, 2013, Kushwaha formed his own party RLSP to oppose his old mentor Nitish Kumar's government in Bihar. This did not go down well with the JD(U) leader, but the move paved the way of his joining the NDA camp.

Many say that when Kushwaha had formed his own party, several JD(U) leaders had ridiculed him. They believed that he had committed a political suicide and his rookie party will not make it to the 16th Lok Sabha. However, after siding with the NDA, RLSP won all the three seats of Karakat, Jehanabad and Sitamarhi while JD(U) was reduced to two.

Ecstatic over their party's début performance in national elections, his supporters demanded that he be made a chief ministerial candidate of NDA in Bihar polls.

RLSP state president, Arun Kumar, had a few months back said that Kushwaha is the most capable and deserving candidate for the post.

IF BJP-led NDA wins Bihar then November 8 could see some fire works.