Kushwaha politics in a state of flux as caste leaders up for grabs

Patna,(BiharTimes): Perhaps leaders of no caste in Bihar are as much in demand recently as Kushwaha (Koeris). Development in the past couple of months, especially after UP election, has thrown everything into haywire.

It all started with the joining of BJP by suspended JD(U) leader of the caste, Rakesh Kumar alias Samrat Chaudhary, in presence of UP’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who hails from the same caste. This high profile function organized in Patna on June 11, caused some ripples in JD(U), which is considered as the party of Luv-Kush, that is Kurmis and Koeris.  

Sanrat was earlier an RJD MLA, who deserted the party to join the Nitish bandwagon on the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha election.

His father Shakuni Chaudhary had earlier been in Nitish’s Samata Party as well as in Lalu’s RJD.  So party-hopping is not something new for him or his father.

BJP’s move to woo Samrat was considered significant as JD(U) was then the rival party in Bihar and Union ministr Upendra Kushwaha of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party a main competitor within the NDA.

But on July 3 Suheli Mehta joined the JD(U). She was earlier in LJP and Jan Adhikar Party.

Apparently, she is no big leader of the caste and had repeatedly lost elections. But the latest development was considered significant as she is the younger sister of Alok Mehta, the then cooperative minister and senior RJD leader.

Their father Tulsi Das Mehta had served as minister in Lalu Prasad’s cabinet and used to represent Jandaha Assembly constituency in Vaihali district.

Then came a big and surprise change in the state politics. Overnight Nitish switched over from RJD to BJP and all those who were abusing and criticising him till July 27 evening, in no time, became his dear friend and biggest admirer.

Leaders like Samrat Chaudhary and Upendra Kushwaha had to re-draw their strategy.

When Nitish made R C P Singh as the leader of his party in Rajya Sabha replacing rebellious Sharad Yadav he felt that JD(U) had essentially become too tilted in favour of Kurmis.

The Koeri community is still in search of towering leader like Nitish, Lalu Prasad or Ram Vilas Paswan of their respective castes as Upendra Kushwaha is no match to them. He could win the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Koeri dominated Karakat seat in Rohtas district––which is not his home turf––just because of the Narendra Modi wave.

In contrast he had lost from his own seat in 2005 even when he was the leader of opposition in the state Assembly. Incidentally, this was when his party, JD(U), in alliance with the BJP, won the election.

Of late, the JD(U) is trying to somewhat restore the Koeri-Kurmi balance within his party. A couple of days back state JD(U) president Vashistha Narayan Singh, had appointed Pragati Mehta, state RJD spokesman till a few days back, as the state general secretary as well as the spokesman and Suheli Mehta as the spokesperson.

Incidentally, Pragati had joined Janata Dal (United)  as late as on August 16. He is a prominent face in the regional media as he had served as the spokeman of the RJD. In fact he was critical of chief minister Nitish Kumar joining hands with the BJP last month.

Yet he joined the JD(U) and within four days made state general secretary and spokesman.

Pragati, a former journalist with Hindi daily Hindustan, had even unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha election on RJD ticket.

Suheli is a professor in Magadh Mahila College.

They are not the only new Koeri faces in JD(U). With Suheli, BSP leader Babban Kushwaha too had joined the party on July 3.

So far RJD is concerned it has no prominent Koeri face apart from Alok Mehta. But the party is keeping its finger crossed as Upendra Kushwaha had seldom been comfortable with Nitish.

Though of late he had softened his stand towards the Bihar CM, yet if in future he sees any uncertainty in NDA’s poll prospect he can switch side as he had done in the past. But till then NDA can boast of a lot of Koeri leaders.





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