July 11, 2021 1:53:14 am
Three days after JD(U) national president RCP Singh took oath as Union minister, the party’s parliamentary board chairman and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Saturday launched his Bihar tour from West Champaran to reach out to the party’s core constituency of OBCs, EBCs and Scheduled Caste Mahadalits.
Kushwaha’s tour — an official party outreach — is an ostensible bid to nurture a second line of leadership in the JD(U) and is also being touted as a silent battle of succession between Singh and Kushwaha.
This has the full backing of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who has reportedly advised Kushwaha to meet families of party workers who have died because of Covid. As Kushwaha already has a sizable mass base, JD(U) has been looking to invest in his leadership with an eye on the next Assembly elections. Senior JD(U) leader and Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh or Lalan Singh, who may well have lost the ministerial race to RCP Singh, has also supported Kushwaha.
Kushwaha will interact with people from various caste groups and share food with them to establish a personal rapport.
Launching his tour from Valmiki Nagar where he inspected Covid vaccination in a Dalit settlement, Kushwaha said, “I have toured across the state several times. I am moving again as a JD(U) worker to know their issues and share a sense of grief with families of party workers who have lost their lives.”
A JD(U) source said the local administration has been also briefed to coordinate with Kushwaha during his visits to vaccination centres. He will visit Betia on Sunday, Motihari on Monday and subsequently to Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Rohtas, Kaimur, Buxar and Bhojpur till July 25. “Tea and bhuja (desi snacks) parties would be the standard format… He will be dining at residences of NDA leaders on the way,” said a party leader.
While Kushwaha has clarified there is no vacancy for a national president in his party, the tour may pressure incumbent RCP Singh to strike a balance between his new Cabinet posting and the one within his party organisation.