Following a battle of supremacy between its two MPs, NDA ally from Bihar Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) looks set for a split, with rival factions led by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha and the party’s Jehanabad MP, Arun Kumar, suspending each other.
Kumar has decided to approach the Election Commission, claiming that his faction is the “real” representative of the party. RLSP has three MPs in the Lok Sabha and two MLAs in Bihar.
On Wednesday, the faction led by Kumar held a meeting in Patna, also attended by Lallan Paswan, one of the two MLAs. The meeting announced removal of Union Minister of State for HRD Upendra Kushwaha as party chief and replaced him with Kumar.
The Kushwaha faction hit back on Friday, with the RLSP disciplinary committee, headed by its third MP Ram Kumar Sharma, recommending suspension of Kumar and Paswan “with immediate effect for indiscipline and indulging in anti-party activities”.
The letter, signed by RLSP chief general secretary Shivraj Singh, says former national general secretary Vinod Kushwaha, too, stands dismissed for alleged anti-party activities. Kushwaha has already quit, and his resignation has been accepted.
Dismissing any possibility of a compromise, Kumar told The Indian Express, “Kushwaha, when asked the same question (about reaching a compromise), has said I am out of his syllabus. When I have gone out of syllabus, I have to write a new syllabus now.”
Alleging that Kushwaha is autocratic and “not bothered about the party’s image”, Kumar said, “We will go to the Election Commission (now) and stake our claim. We represent the real party.”
The faction led by Kumar questions how Kushwaha became an MP from JD(U) while he kept alive his earlier party, the Rashtriya Samata Party, later rechristened RLSP.
Kushwaha, 56, MP from Karakat in Rohtas district, was in Samata Party from 2000 to 2004, then in JD(U) for close to 10 years before founding RLSP, which aligned with the BJP before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He belongs to the Koiri community, which has a vote-share of approximately 5 per cent in the state.
Sources said trouble between the two leaders started before the Bihar elections last October. Kumar nursed a grudge against Kushwaha for apparently not consulting him in ticket distribution. The relationship soured further when Kushwha appointed Himanshu Patel as president of Youth RLSP — again without reportedly consulting the Jehanbad MP. Kumar hit back by appointing presidents to different party cells on his own. He later also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing Kushwaha of going to Indonesia on a tour allegedly funded by hawala dealer Pradeep Mishra.