“Don’t Ask Me About Him”: Nitish Kumar On Sulking Party Leader

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been “cautioned” about a conspiracy, by a sulking leader of his party who is said to be on his way out.Upendra Kushwaha, who is widely believed to be in talks with the BJP, pitched himself as Nitish Kumar’s defender as he denied any move to quit his party.”Upendra Kushwaha has always defended you against allegations. Tell me who else has done that. No one else. Yet Upendra Kushwaha is sidelined. The plot is – remove Upendra Kushwaha so that Nitish Kumar is weakened,” said the Janata Dal United (JDU) leader, blaming Nitish Kumar’s ally RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) for what he called a “conspiracy”.”What is happening will harm Bihar. So, my appeal to Nitish Kumar is, understand the conspiracy against you. Call me and we can discuss it. Call a meeting of the party. If you don’t want to reveal what deal RJD has struck, call us for a meeting. Otherwise, there is confusion, which is constantly weakening Nitish Kumar,” Mr Kushwaha said.For his troubles, the response from Nitish Kumar was: “Don’t ask me about him”.Pressed by reporters, he said: “Whatever he is saying is up to him. I have nothing to do with it.”At an event this evening, the Chief Minister did not name Mr Kushwaha as he ranted about being targeted. “Some people target us. People come, people go. Some are elevated and they leave. Others try to run away. In a party, we all must work together. I have no selfish interests – all I want is for Bihar to move ahead,” he said.Much later, Mr Kumar offered a calmer statement: “There is respect for him in the party. But what he wants, I will only know when he meets with me.”Mr Kushwaha is seen to be in flight mode, again, nearly two years after he rejoined Nitish Kumar, merging his party with the JDU.The buzz started when several BJP leaders visited him at AIIMS hospital in Delhi where he had gone last week for medical tests.Mr Kushwaha has been upset since August, when his hopes for a prominent job in the Bihar cabinet were dashed with Nitish Kumar naming RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy.In recent months, Nitish Kumar has gone on to declare that Tejashwi Yadav will lead the ruling coalition in the 2025 Bihar election, designating him as his next-in-line.Addressing an internal meeting in December, Mr Kumar said: “I am not the Prime Ministerial candidate or Chief Ministerial candidate. My goal is to defeat the BJP.”He added: “Tejashwi has to be encouraged.”Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav fell out in 2017 when the Chief Minister dumped the RJD over corruption allegations and revived his alliance with the BJP. Last year, Nitish Kumar swapped allies again, and formed a new government with the RJD.