New Delhi: In a stunning claim, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha revealed that Nitish Kumar confided in him that he doesn't want to continue as Bihar Chief Minister beyond 2020.
“I am neither doing any politics nor I am making any satirical comment on the CM, but he (Nitish Kumar) has himself expressed his desire not to continue beyond 2020. I have ruled for 15 years. How long will I be the CM,” Kushwaha quoted Kumar as saying at a party event in Patna to mark Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary.
Kushwaha, Union Minister of State for HRD, added that Nitish Kumar had spoken with “a heavy heart” when he had spoken to him about his intention a few months back.
The claim came as a surprise as neither Nitish Kumar nor anyone in his Janata Dal (United) had ever spoken about any such possibility.
JD (U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar however brushed aside Kushwaha’s claim, saying Nitish Kumar was chief minister by “virtue of people’s mandate and the legislators’ choice”.
The RLSP is a part of the BJP-led NDA in the state whose other constituents are Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Ramvilas Paswan’s LJP.
This is not the first time that the RLSP chief has raised the issue of Nitish Kumar’s future as chief minister. In July, he had questioned the logic of going with Kumar as the National Democratic Alliance’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2020 state assembly polls.
A former JD(U) leader, Kushwaha quit the party in 2013, months after suspension on disciplinary grounds. He then floated his own outfit and joined the NDA, while Nitish’s was out of the BJP-led coalition.
Kushwaha's recent meeting with opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, hours after Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar announced that their parties would contest equal number of seats, sparked speculations of political realignment in Bihar.
The opposition RJD, meanwhile, accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of "blackmailing" the BJP to secure a seat-sharing deal favourable to his JD(U) while denying "adequate" representation to Kushwaha's RLSP.
"We fully back Upendra Kushwaha's concern over his party not getting a ministerial berth in Bihar government despite the NDA being in power and his party being its constituent for over four years", Tiwary said.