Nitish Kumar 'saturated', 'wants to step down', claims Upendra Kushwaha
Patna, Oct 31: Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha on Wednesday made a startling claim, indicating that the top post in Bihar may soon fall vacant and a new candidate will be required.
Addressing his party workers in Patna, Kushwaha said no one knows Nitish Kumar better than him. During one of their interactions, Nitish Kumar had told him that after being in power for 15 years, he doesn't want to continue any longer, Kushwaha added.
"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.
"Nitish Kumar had spoken with "a heavy heart" when he had spoken to him about his intention a few months back," he added.
The claim came as a surprise as neither Nitish Kumar nor anyone in his Janata Dal (United) had ever spoken about any such possibility.
However, JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar brushed aside Kushwaha's claim and said Kumar is Chief Minister by "virtue of people's mandate and legislators' choice".
The statement on Wednesday is seen as a last-ditch effort by the RLSP to bargain for more Lok Sabha seats in the state than it got for 2014 general elections.
Kumar and Kushwaha are BJP allies in Bihar, but their relationship has reached a new low as it became clear that Nitish Kumar would get as many seats as the BJP - at the cost of smaller allies.
Last week, after BJP president Amit Shah announced final seat-sharing formula and appealed to all allies to make sacrifices to accommodate a new partner, Kushwaha had said: "I respect his statement. We are ready for sacrifice. (But) all partners should share all benefits and losses. I understand that the alliance with the JD(U) has benefited the NDA. Then why can't we share the benefits in Bihar?...Partnership should be equal in profit as well as loss."
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.