This is post-poll Bihar. Nitish Kumar has retained his saddle and is meeting friends, foes and friends-turned-foes who want to be friend-zoned again. And so it seemed when former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha showed up at 1, Aney Marg—the chief minister’s bungalow in Patna—recently. Nitish and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief had a long meeting after many many years and people tried to look beyond the “what” to the “why”. Is the RLSP merging with the ruling JD(U)? Will Kushwaha get a job in Nitish ministry?
Years ago, Nitish, a Kurmi leader, and Kushwaha, a Koeri chieftain, set up a formidable non-Yadav “Luv-Kush” front of dominant OBC leaders to oust Laloo Prasad Yadav from power. Kushwaha was made JD(U) legislature party leader in 2004. But they fell out soon after and Kushwaha formed his own party, contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as an NDA ally, and became a minister in the Modi government. He resigned after Nitish restored his ties with the BJP in 2017 and contested the 2019 general elections as an ally of the non-BJP Mahagathbandhan, but snapped ties with it before the assembly elections this year. In the state elections, he moored his boat with Mayawati’s BSP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. His party did not win a single seat.