Taking umbrage at the Janata Dal (United)’s retort after he claimed that Nitish Kumar wanted to give up his post after 2020, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and BJP ally Upendra Kushwaha has now cited a jibe by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attack the Bihar chief minister.
At an event in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, the Union minister of state for HRD asked Kumar why he had relegated him to a “lowly” position by saying he was not worthy of a comment.
Kushwaha’s statement came in response to an interview by the Bihar chief minister where he said he did not want the discourse to be “brought down” by addressing the minister’s claims about his plans for 2020.
Referring to a 2015 comment by Modi, where he had taken a dig at Kumar by suggesting that his inability to respect others showed there was something wrong with his DNA, Kushwaha asked the Bihar chief minister to furnish his DNA report.
The RLSP chief shares a blow hot, blow cold relationship with Kumar. A day after the BJP and the JD(U) arrived at a 50-50 seat-sharing formula, Kushwaha met RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, raising eyebrows in political circles.
His claims about Kumar’s wish to give up his post after 2020 had riled the JD(U), which retorted by saying that the chief minister’s seat was “no rasgulla” and Kumar would continue in his role as he had been elected by the people.
The repeated provocations by Kushwaha, a caste leader whose party won four Lok Sabha seats as part of the NDA in 2014, have emerged as a pattern in the larger political narrative that he may be trying to build.
Many question if he is attempting to force the BJP’s hand in Bihar and emerge as a martyr. This could work in his favour as community pride and insult at the hands of dominant groups can be a powerful alibi in seeking separation. It can later be used to play the victim card at the hustings.
While Kushawaha’s caste alone does not have numerical strength to alter electoral fortunes in the state, he can bring in the top-up votes of his community in an umbrella social coalition. Keeping this in mind, both the BJP and the JD(U) have been very careful in dealing with his tantrums.