By DK Sinha
Patna: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday sought to consolidate his traditional ‘Lav-Kush’ (Kurmi-Koeri) vote bank by engineering merger of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of former union minister Upendra Kushwaha with his party, the Janta Dal (United).
With this merger, Nitish is hopeful of winning the support of Kushwaha community, constituting around 6 percent of the state’s population. Upendra Kushwaha is considered as the tallest leader of Kushwaha community in the state. Kushwaha had splitted from the JD(U) around eight years ago.
Soon after the merger, Nitish announced that Kushwaha would be chairman of the JD (U) parliamentary board. Leader of opposition and senior RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had tried to mitigate the impact of merger by inducting a large number of RLSP leaders into his party. Nitish’s caste, Kurmi, constitutes only two percent of the state’s population, Nitish nerds to broaden his support among Kushwahas to consolidate his position as a leader of Lav-Kush politics.
In the 2020 assembly polls, the Luv-Kush alliance could not work as JD (U) candidates could not get votes of the Kushwaha community, having dominant presence in the constituencies like Jehanabad, Arwal, Nalanda, Khagaria, Jamui and Vaishali.
The RLSP only got 1.72 per cent of the overall vote, but JD(U) sources say even these votes were enough to ensure their candidates’ defeat in a dozen seats.
RLSP had contested 2020 state assembly election in alliance with BSP but could not open its account.