BARELY A fortnight after Rajya Sabha member R C P Singh was made the national president of the JD(U), the party on Sunday picked former MLA Umesh Kushwaha as its new state president, replacing the ailing Bashistha Narayan Singh.
The elevation of low-profile Vaishali leader to the post of the state president has come as a surprise to many as he was not counted among even second-rung JD(U) leaders.
With R C P Singh, an OBC Kurmi leader, as the party national president and Kushwaha, an OBC Koeri leader, as the party’s state president, the JD(U) appears to be trying to cater to its core Luv-Kush support base, as the combination of the two caste groups has come to be known in state political circles.
JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told The Indian Express: “Umesh Kushwaha has been a committed party worker. His elevation to the post of state president has shown that a small worker can rise to a senior level in the party structure.”
Asked if the party has been focusing too much on the Luv-Kush factor, Kumar said: “The JD (U) gives representation to all sections of society. There is no need to read between the lines as the party has leaders from all caste groups holding prominent positions in the party and in the government.”
Kushwaha, who won Assembly elections from Mahnar in Vaishali in the 2015 elections, lost to RJD’s Veena Singh in the 2020 polls. Sources said the party first discussed the name of former minister Ramsevak Singh, also from the same caste, for the state president post but settled for Kushwaha in the final moments at its state executive.
Although the JD(U) had full-time state president in Bashisha Narayan Singh, he was not able to look after day-to-day affairs of the party because of ill-health. Ashok Kumar Choudhary had been functioning as the state president for sometime.
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