Patna, Jan 22 (PTI) JD(U) parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha on Sunday betrayed a sense of growing disaffection with the party but kept cards close to his chest.
Kushwaha, who was visited by some BJP leaders at AIIMS in the national capital where he had been admitted for a check up, made it clear "more than 100 per cent" that he will "never become a member" of the saffron party.
He, however, expressed anguish that even after nearly two years of the merger of his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, "it appears people are not convinced that I am fully with the JD(U)".
"I see no other reason why Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spoke about me to the media, instead of talking to me directly," said the former Union minister who had quit the NDA ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and ended up in political wilderness until a return to the JD(U) brought the promise of resurrection.
Kushwaha said he felt "a post mortem was being conducted on me while I was still alive" when speculations kept doing the rounds that he was planning to jump ship.
Recently, when questions about Kushwaha were posed to Kumar, he had sarcastically referred to the former as having changed loyalties in the past.
Kushwaha bristled at the snide remark and said, "The JD(U) itself has for long been a BJP ally and, naturally, leaders of both parties have been friends. There was nothing unusual in my case".
The former Union minister is said to have been in a sulk over Kumar ruling out the possibility of appointing another deputy CM besides Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD.
A staunch proponent of Mandal politics, Kushwaha was chosen by Kumar for the post of leader of the opposition in the state assembly while Bihar was still ruled by the RJD-Congress combine.
Known to be a man with vaulting ambitions, Kushwaha ended up annoying Kumar more than once resulting in his suspension from the party on both occasions.
The mentor brought back the protege into the party in 2021 with an eye on consolidation of the Koeri-Kurmi base, in the wake of the JD(U)'s drubbing in 2020 assembly polls, for which blame has been apportioned to a "BJP conspiracy".
Kushwaha maintained that "all people in the party agree in private that the JD(U) has weakened and needs to hold itself together".
The suggestion, when made by him on earlier occasions, has met with disapproval from Kumar and Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, the party’s national president. PTI NAC NN NN