Almost exactly eight years after he split away from the Janata Dal United (JDU), the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) came a full circle today as it merged into Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party. The returning leader has been named the parent party’s Parliamentary Board Chairperson. The formalities of the merger were to be worked upon later through the day.
Mr Kushwaha, a former Union Minister, today addressed a press conference in Patna to make the announcement after the RLSP’s national executive committee authorised him to decide on the future course of the party.
“The political situation in the country and the state warrants that all like-minded people come together…I have, therefore, decided that our journey shall continue under the leadership of my elder brother Nitish Kumar,” Mr Kushwaha said.
The merger comes merely 11 days after its eighth foundation day and two days after the party suffered a major split when over 30 of its state and district level office bearers in Bihar walked over to the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the JDU arch rival.
It is being seen as an acknowledgement of the fact that there are no takers for Mr Kushwaha’s Chief Ministerial ambitions in the BJP or in RJD. Meanwhile, this homecoming only cements Mr Kumar’s traditional “Luv-Kush” (Kurmi-Kushwaha caste) votebank which was split during the the last Assembly elections.
“We were in talks with RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha for quite some time. When I discussed it with my party members, they expressed their joy on his thought of merging the party with ours,” Mr Kumar said about the merger.
In the eight years of its existence, the RLSP has been part of the both the NDA as well as the RJD-Congress led grand alliance in Bihar. Mr Kushwaha even manned the post of the Minister of State for Human Resource Development Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term.
In the recent Bihar assembly election of 2020, the RLSP stitched a coalition with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. However, it did not win a single seat.