Nitish Kumar, Upendra Kushwaha toughen stand
The ruling Janata Dal United (JDU) could be heading for a split in Bihar, with chief minister Nitish Kumar and the party’s parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha hardening their stand against each other on Friday and the latter asserting that he would not quit without his share.
A split in the JDU will suit the BJP as it will further weaken Nitish and can divide crucial votes belonging to the extremely backward castes and other backward castes in the state in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats and has an important place in the BJP’s scheme of things. In the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly, the Rashtriya Janata Dal has 79 MLAs, BJP 78, JDU 45, Congress 19, CPI-ML 12, Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular four, while CPI and CPM have two each. There is one Independent MLA.
A split in the JDU could drive back Nitish to the National Democratic Alliance fold, which he had quit in August last year to form the Grand Alliance government in the state. “Internal matters of the party should be discussed in private, not in public. He could have talked to me, but he is speaking through the media and tweeting. He was doing well, but I do not know what happened to him suddenly. He has not talked to me for the last one month,” Nitish told reporters on Friday.
“I am surprised by the developments. I gave him so much affection, but what can I do if anybody goes away? Let him do whatever he wants to,” he added. Several senior JDU leaders said Kushwaha was not welcome in their party any more. Kushwaha, a former Union minister, said he would not leave without his fair share.
“If every younger brother starts leaving home on the words of the elder brother, then every elder brother will chase away his younger siblings and usurp the property of the ancestors. How can I go without my share?” Kushwaha said.