A third front has emerged in Bihar ahead of next month’s polls with former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha’s party separating from the opposition alliance. Mr Kushwaha has been on both sides of the fence and is now likely to strike out on his own when Bihar votes for a new 243-member assembly from October 28 to November 7.
Mr Kushwaha has said that his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) will contest the polls along with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati.
“Upendra Kushwaha will be the chief minister if this alliance gets blessing of people of Bihar in the polls,” Mayawati was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Sources say Mr Kushwaha had plans to join the Nitish Kumar-BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but he saw little chance of scoring much in the seat-sharing talks.
Mr Kushwaha was a part of the NDA when it was defeated in the 2015 assembly election by the Nitish Kumar-led mahagatbandhan with the RJD and Congress.
Last year, just before the national election, he quit the NDA citing the BJP’s “arrogance” towards smaller allies and joined the Congress-RJD-led grand alliance. “The wholeheartedness shown by Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Yadav is one of the reasons I joined but the biggest reason I’m here is the people of Bihar,” Mr Kushwaha had announced in March 2019.
A year later, however, not one but two key parties have quit the opposition alliance led by RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav in the absence of his jailed father Lalu Yadav. Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi also recently rejoined the NDA.
Sources say the RJD feels Mr Kushwaha failed to transfer his votes to the alliance.
Mr Kushwaha has, on the other hand, relayed that he is unhappy over Tejashwi’s leadership and considers the 30-year-old too immature to lead the opposition even though he had been deputy Chief Minister when the RJD and Congress were part of the state’s ruling alliance in 2015-17.
Nitish Kumar ended his ties with the RJD and Congress over allegations of corruption against Tejashwi, and resurrected his alliance with the BJP, the party with which he had had a bitter break-up in 2013 over Narendra Modi being projected as Prime Ministerial candidate.
The RJD, which had been the single largest party in the 2015 election with 81 seats, it finding it tough to convince its partners of its dominating status in the coalition and allow it to contest 150 of the 243 seats. The party is fighting its first state polls in the absence of Lalu Prasad, who is serving a jail term for corruption.
The Bihar election results will be declared on November 10.