Kushwaha quits NDA and govt, accuses Modi of betraying backward classes
New Delhi: RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha Monday severed his ties with the BJP and resigned from the Union council of ministers, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of reducing Cabinet to a "rubber stamp", "betraying" backward classes and giving Bihar only "jumlas".
Making the announcement a day ahead of Parliament's winter session, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party leader from Bihar said he is open to joining the opposition alliance, which includes Lalu Prasad's RJD and the Congress.
He also claimed the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would not be able to win a single seat in the state.
Kushwaha, whose break-up with the BJP was expected, sharply attacked Modi on a host of issues in his resignation letter, which was also released to the media.
He said he felt "betrayed and dejected" by the prime minister's leadership and alleged that "fixing" political opponents and not working for the poor had become the government's priority.
The former minister of state for HRD also raised the planks of Other Backward Classes and social justice -- used by the opposition to decimate the BJP in the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 -- to target Modi. He alleged that the Modi-led government was implementing the RSS agenda and dubbed it unconstitutional.
The RLSP president has been upset since the BJP made it clear that it will not be given more than two Lok Sabha seats in 2019 against the three it had fought in 2014. The party has two MPs and two MLAs.
BJP president Amit Shah's announcement that his party and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) will contest an equal number of seats also did not go down well with Kushwaha, who has long had a bitter equation with Kumar.
The NDA won 31 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in 2014 and has now been bolstered by the presence of the JD(U), which had fought against it in the last polls.
Opposition parties believe political winds are no longer as favourable to the BJP as they were in 2014 due to "anti-incumbency" against both Modi and Kumar and are hoping that Kushwaha's exit further weakens the state's ruling alliance.
"It (NDA) won't be able to open its account in the state this time," Kushwaha claimed.
At a press conference, he said people like him were attracted to Modi in 2014 due to his OBC background and hoped that he would deliver on the agenda of social justice.
"People believed 'achchhe din' will come. It did not happen. Bihar remains where it was," he said.
Targeting the Modi government for not releasing the census data of the OBCs, he said there is fear and confusion among the backward classes.
"The government has been toeing the agenda of the RSS which is unconstitutional and is neglecting and subverting the agenda of social justice enshrined in the Constitution for which we have supported the NDA," he said in his resignation letter.
The agenda of the RSS is against social justice, he alleged.
Attacking Modi, he said the Union Cabinet has been reduced to a mere rubber stamp, simply endorsing the prime minister's decision without any deliberation.
"Ministers and officers posted in ministries have become figureheads as virtually all decisions are taken by you, your and the BJP president. Which is unconstitutional," his letter added.
"The promise of providing Bihar with a special package has been the biggest jumla (rhetoric)," Kushwaha said, as he also attacked Kumar for leaving the state's infrastructure in a shambles.
Asked about his future move, he said his party is yet to take a decision.
The Bihar leader said he is open to joining the opposition's camp and also launching a third front.
He was joined by his party MP Ram Kumar Sharma but there are reports that two MLAs of his party have deserted him and may join the NDA.
Kushwaha accused the BJP and the JD(U) of doing everything to weaken his party and alleged that inducements have been used to win over the MLAs.
He also said that he would contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Karakat, from where he had won in 2014.
To a question about his stand of Hindutva groups' demand for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said construction of a temple, mosque or church should be done lawfully but added that it is not the job of a political party to build religious places.