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  India   All India  11 Dec 2018  ‘Betrayed’ RLSP chief quits NDA, Modi government

‘Betrayed’ RLSP chief quits NDA, Modi government

Published : Dec 11, 2018, 12:54 am IST
Updated : Dec 11, 2018, 12:54 am IST

Meanwhile, the RLSP leader also targeted the Modi government for disappointing other backward classes (OBCs).

Upendra Kushwaha
 Upendra Kushwaha

New Delhi: After weeks of uncertainty over his future in the NDA and the Narendra Modi government, RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha on Monday severed his ties with the BJP and resigned from the Union council of ministers on the eve of the start of Parliament’s Winter Session.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Kushwaha said that he was “dejected” and felt “betrayed” by the PM’s leadership, according to party sources.

The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) leader from Bihar accused Mr Modi of reducing the Cabinet to a “rubber stamp”, “betraying” backward classes and giving Bihar only “jumlas” and also hit out at BJP chief Amit Shah of “harassing leaders with contrary views”.  

The RLSP leader is upset with the BJP after it asserted that the his party would not be given more than two Lok Sabha seats, out of the 40 in Bihar, in the 2019 election.

Mr Kushwaha, who served as minister of state for human resource development in the Modi government, said he felt “betrayed and dejected” by the Prime Minister’s leadership and alleged that “fixing” political opponents and not working for the poor had become the government’s priority.  

Attacking Mr Modi, he said the Union Cabinet has been reduced to a mere rubber stamp, simply endorsing the Prime Minister’s decision without any deliberation.

“Ministers and officers posted in ministries have become figureheads as virtually all decisions are taken by you, your and the BJP president. Which is unconstitutional,” Mr Kushwaha said in his letter to the Prime Minister.

The RLSP leader alleged that the Modi-led government was implementing the RSS agenda and dubbed it unconstitutional.  

The RLSP leader added that his party is open to joining the Opposition alliance, which includes Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.

The jolt to the NDA comes a day before Parliament’s Winter Session begins. This newspaper was the first to write on December 2 that following a breakdown in talks over seat sharing arrangements, BJP’s Bihar ally RLSP is likely to part ways with the NDA soon.

Sources said that all attempts by BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav to placate and reach out to Mr Kushwaha failed, leading to his resignation from the Union council of ministers.  

The ties between BJP and RLSP had been faltering ever since the former re-aligned with the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) in Bihar in 2017. The rift intensified after the NDA seat-sharing formula was announced in October.

It is understood that the two big allies — JD(U) and BJP — have divided a the lion’s share of state’s Lok Sabha seats amongst them while leaving Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the RLSP as minor players in state politics.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the RLSP had fought and won three seats, and this time the party was hoping to be given four seats by the NDA. But the BJP did not accede to its demand. The party currently has two MPs and two MLAs in the Bihar Assembly.

The exit of mr Kushwaha is likely to upset the BJP’s delicately woven caste coalition in Bihar. Mr Kushwaha is a leader of the Koeris, with an estimated population of about eight per cent of the state’s population.

Mr Kushwaha’s exit is expected to have a bearing on the caste alliance of non-Yadav OBCs that the BJP carefully crafted in 2014. His entry into the NDA then was part of the saffron party’s larger plan to supplement its broadly upper caste vote-bank with non-Yadav OBCs and dalits, through alliances with the RLSP and the LJP. The caste coalition worked for the NDA as it won 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

Meanwhile, the RLSP leader also targeted the Modi government for disappointing other backward classes (OBCs).

The RLSP leader claimed that he backed Mr Modi in 2014 due to his OBC background and hoped that he would deliver on the agenda of social justice. “People believed ‘achchhe din’ will come. It did not happen. Bihar remains where it was,” he said.

Tags: narendra modi government, upendra kushwaha