Union minister’s ‘kheer recipe’ sparks talk of changes in Bihar alliances
The RJD has welcomed Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha’s observation that an electoral union of Yadavs and Koiris in Bihar would help in the preparation of good ‘kheer’, stating that such a caste equation holds the potential to uplift socially deprived classes.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said in a tweet that ‘panchmewa’ (a delicacy prepared with five dry fruits on religious occasions) can not only restore one to good health but also help create an egalitarian society. “Panchmewa gives energy and is a good food item,” he added.
Although the RLSP is allied to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Kushwaha seemed to hint at a possible political realignment during a function meant to mark the 100th birth anniversary of former chief minister BP Mandal on Saturday. “One can prepare kheer with milk from the Yadavs and rice from the Kushwahas. We will get the sugar from Brahmins, Tulsi from Choudharyji (RLSP Bihar chief Bhudev Choudhary) and make delicious kheer with dry fruits acquired from the backward classes and Dalits. Then we can sit together and have some delicious kheer,” he said.
By the kheer metaphor, Kushwaha was presumably hinting at how Yadav-Koiri unity, put together with the economically backward classes, could bring about an electoral front aimed at bettering the lot of the underprivileged. Tejashwi’s endorsement of his statement is being seen as an attempt by the opposition party to woo the RLSP chief, given his clout among the other backward classes.
Speculations that Kushwaha was planning to join the RJD-Congress combine in Bihar had earlier cropped up when he visited RJD chief Lalu Prasad at AIIMS Hospital in March. Many senior RJD leaders – including Raghuvansh Prasad Singh – said they had no objection to aligning with the RLSP if it left the NDA’s fold. However, Kushwaha had denied all reports of a possible political realignment back then.
The BJP and the JD(U) dismissed the possibility of Kushwaha switching sides. “What Kushwahaji said sounded like nothing but a proverb to me. Rice, milk and sugar belong to everyone... One should not try to read too much into it as Kushwahaji has resolved to make Narendra Modiji the prime minister in 2019 again,” said BJP chief Nityanand Rai.
The JD(U) said the RLSP chief was only reading out a recipe. “It’s just a proverb. Upendra Kushwaha has played an important role in uprooting jungle raj from Bihar, and he is firmly with the NDA,” said party spokesperson Niraj Kumar.
The Koiris comprise 10% of Bihar’s electorate, the largest vote bank after the Yadavs. Kushwaha had hoped to use this as leverage to seek a larger share of seats, besides nomination as the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly elections, but the BJP has been largely silent on his demands.