Senior RJD leaders Shivanand Tiwary and Ramchandra Purve today joined a human chain formed here at the instance of RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, triggering speculations about rumblings of discontent within the NDA in Bihar. Kushwaha, whose Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) has three members in the Lok Sabha, however, denied any rift in the NDA in the state. Tiwary, RJD national vice-president, stood beside Kushwaha and held his hand as part of the programme at the Miller High School as part of the human chain. Purve, the state unit chief of the RJD, stood on the lther side of Tiwari at the event where leaders of NDA allies like the BJP and JD(U) were conspicuous by their absence. Kushwaha, the Union Minister of State for HRD, had organized the event across the state to raise awareness about the need for improvement in public education and the people’s right to demand it under the Right to Education Act. Acting Bihar Congress president Kaukab Qadri said despite Kushwaha wholeheartedly supporting the human chain event on January 21 organised by the Nitish Kumar government against dowry and child marriage, the “cold” response of the JD(U) and BJP to the one held by him was a “strong” message to the RLSP leader to rethink his continuance in the NDA.
“Today’s incident was not a fluke. It vindicates RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s claim that Kushwaha is uneasy in the BJP-led alliance in Bihar. The people of Bihar have taken note of the indifference shown towards him by his own alliance partners,” Qadri told PTI. However, Kushwaha and the two RJD leaders insisted that “no political meaning” should be attached to today’s development. At a press conference held immediately after the event, Kushwaha said, “We had planned to hold human chain on this day for 30 minutes at one school in every panchayat across the state. The response has been more than we had expected. Sincere thanks to Tiwari and Purve for coming out in our support”. Asked to comment on the absence of JD(U) and BJP leaders, the RLSP chief claimed, “All NDA constituents have supported our endeavour. Senior leaders of some parties may not have taken part because of other engagements but ground-level workers have contributed in making our event a success”.
Tiwari told reporters separately that the RJD leaders joined the event to support the cause Kushwaha was espousing. “Public education system in Bihar is in doldrums and Nitish Kumar government has been too busy with its gimmicks on child marriage and dowry to pay attention to these essential matters of governance”. BJP state vice-president Mrityunjay Tiwari came down heavily on the RJD for trying to create a rift in the NDA while “pretending” to support education reforms in the state. He said education was “destroyed” when RJD ruled Bihar. “Kushwaha is in the NDA and will remain in the alliance. We are of the view that if he had any concerns regarding education scenario in the state, he could have coordinated with the governments at the Centre and the state since NDA is in power in both places. As far as BJP’s non-participation is concerned, I am not sure whether his party had approached it for supporting the event,” he said.
JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok said Kushwaha’s cause enjoys the party’s moral support. “But the JD(U) could not have actively participated in any move which enjoys RJD’s backing”. The JD(U) had returned to the NDA fold last year after ditching the Grand Alliance of RJD and Congress following corruption cases against the then deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav. Kushwaha, was once considered a confidante of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He had quit the JD(U) and formed the Rahstriya Lok Samata Party in 2013 after being suspended for anti-party activities. The RLSP had later aligned with the BJP.