Will Upendra Kushwaha follow Jitan Ram Manjhi out of NDA?
Sources in Bihar tell National Herald that though Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP remains with NDA for now, there is unhappiness across rank and file of the party and RLSP may be the next to quit NDA
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi quit the National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday and reportedly will be tying up with the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress alliance. RJD leaders Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Misa Bharti have been tweeting, welcoming him to their alliance.
Interestingly, Tejashwi said that more NDA MLAs and allies will be following Jitan Ram Manjhi. RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha repeated this claim, saying that Manjhi's quitting NDA will hasten the disintegration of the BJP-led NDA alliance in Bihar and all over the country before the 2019 elections. Referring to Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader, Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, Jha said he might be the next rebel to exit the NDA camp. The NDA in Bihar now comprises, besides RLSP and BJP, the Janata Dal (United) of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Lok Janshakti Party of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
However, RLSP spokesperson Fazal Imam Mallick denied any possibility of break away and said the NDA alliance is intact and strong. Mallick told NH that BJP president Amit Shah called on Kushwaha after the byelections for Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad and Bhabua assembly seats were announced. He said that after a long discussion with Shah and consultation with JD(U), RLSP decided to campaign in favour of NDA candidates and appointed election in-charges in all three poll-bound constituencies.
In the most ironic political statement of the year so far, a Delhi-based JD(U) spokesperson said that Manjhi is known as ‘Aaya Ram and Gaya Ram’ in Bihar politics
However, a Patna observer told NH, on the condition of anonymity, that RLSP and BJP are both trying to down play a rift and no one can predict the future. Upendra Kushwaha is reportedly unhappy since the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The rise of the BJP has reportedly halted Kushwaha’s ambitions of expansion in UP. ''Rank and the file of the party (RLSP) feel that BJP used their votebank to rise to power in UP, '' he explained.
An old friend turned foe of Bihar CM Nitsh Kumar, RJD Vice President Shivanand Tiwari thinks that Manjhi's quitting NDA fold is just another sign of discontent bubbling under the surface. He said that Manjhi had approached RJD and was in touch with the leadership for last many a days and “will join [RJD-Congress] as an alliance partner, but declined to divulge details of the 'negotiations'.
When asked about possibility of merger of HAM with RJD, Tiwari said, as of now Manjhi would join as a partner to the alliance and the issue of merger will be discussed later.
Meanwhile, in the most ironic political statement of the year so far, a Delhi-based JD(U) spokesperson said that Manjhi is known as 'Aaya Ram and Gaya Ram’ in Bihar politics. The JD(U) leader downplayed Manjhi's announcement of leaving the NDA camp 'as a blackmail tactic' of a 'irrelevant leader'.
A senior journalist told NH on the condition of anonymity that it had always been only a matter of time that Manjhi would leave NDA. He said that Manjhi's ouster was decided on the day Nitish Kumar rejoined the NDA. BJP would not entertain Manjhi at the cost of Nitish Kumar, he said.