Till his exit from the Uttar Pradesh cabinet this year,Babu Singh Kushwaha was known as the most trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Mayawati,having reached that position in the course of a two-decade political career that had begun with working alongside BSP founder Kanshiram.
The former family welfare minister was asked to resign in April after financial irregularities in the implementation of NRHM schemes surfaced during the investigation into the murder of Lucknows chief medical officer (CMO) Dr B P Singh. Two CMOs,the other being Dr Vinod Arya,were shot dead during Kushwahas tenure,while arrested deputy CMO Y S Sachan was found dead in Lucknow jail.
Kushwahas fall from grace was completed on Monday when the BSP expelled him. Signs of an imminent parting had come days earlier,when he had written to Mayawati saying he was facing a threat to his life from the governments three most powerful men PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui,cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh and principal secretary (home and appointments) Kunwar Fateh Bahadur.
Born on May 7,1966,at Pakhrauli,Banda district,Kushwaha used to work with villagers,helping them get the benefits of schemes under a special component plan,a party source there said. In the early 1990s he got close to Kanshiram through his namesake Babu Lal Kushwaha,then the BSPs OBC face in Banda. Kanshiram was spending a lot of his time in Banda,seeking to bring OBCs and Dalits on the same political platform. Kanshiram wanted Babu Lal Kushwaha to serve the party in other parts of the state too. Around 1993,he got Babu Singh appointed district president in place of Babu Lal, the source said.
Later,Kanshiram sent Kushwaha,Gaya Charan Dinkar and Siddiqui to work in western UP,where Mayawati was handling the partys affairs. Kushwaha,Siddiqui and Dinkar got an opportunity to work directly under Mayawati, the source said. Today,Siddiqui is considered the most powerful man in the government while Dinakar is BSP coordinator.
The shift also brought Kushwaha closer to the BSPs central unit in New Delhi. He became a party whole-timer and spent a lot of time at the central office. Later,Mayawati had him shifted to Lucknow. He was devoted to her and emerged her most trusted lieutenant at the very beginning of their association, another source said.
But over the years,a rivalry brewed between Kushwaha and Siddiqui,also from Banda. Both wanted to win Mayawatis favour. Kushwaha preferred to be a backroom boy while Siddiqui became the man on the field, the source added.
Kushwahas rise was at its sharpest since 2002,when he became a minister for the first time,given Mines and Minerals. In 2007,when the BSP formed a government with a full majority,he was given Panchayati Raj too,allotted a bungalow next to the Chief Ministers official residence,and considered the link between her and party MLAs. In the Lok Sabha elections,when he was tasked to collect feedback from various constituencies and pass it on to the CM,his words were considered to be those of the CM herself.
Setbacks suffered in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections put many leaders under fire from Mayawati,but not Kushwaha who got Family Welfare and Cooperatives besides the earlier portfolios. By then the BSPs national general secretary,he would sit in the partys state office regularly to attend to problems of party leaders,including MPs,MLAs and MLCs. It was Kushwaha who received the resignation letters from about 100 chairmen and directors of various boards and corporations following the Lok Sabha poll performance.
The turnaround came in April. Following his resignation as minister,Kushwaha was suddenly ousted from the chief ministers inner circle. Although the BSPs latest press release confirmed he had been asked to resign his posts,the party had then tried to ensure a respectable exit,with the government claiming he had resigned owning moral responsibility. Besides,Kushwaha still stayed in the ministerial bungalow next to Mayawatis residence till his latest letter to her.
Kushwaha has not uttered a word after his expulsion. The BSP has charged him with hobnobbing with the Congress to escape the CBI probe into irregularities in the NRHM. However,Rahul Gandhi sought to link Kushwaha with the alleged loot of NRHM funds. When the CBI began the probe,one minister came out to say that there is a threat to his life, Rahul said recently.
Yet many BSP leaders still feel Kushwaha would work for the Congress despite Rahuls denunciation. In politics,one can work for a party even from outside. Who has stopped him from becoming a sympathiser of the Congress in UP? He suits their political interests, a BSP leader said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines