The BJP leadership has announced that its NDA ally Upendra Kushwaha, the Rashtriya Lok Morcha (RLM) chief and former Union minister, will be sent to the Rajya Sabha. Upendra recently lost the Lok Sabha election from the Karakat constituency in Bihar.

Two seats for the Upper House have fallen vacant in Bihar after the incumbent Rajya Sabha MPs, the RJD’s Misa Bharati and the BJP’s Vivek Thakur, were elected in the Lok Sabha polls from the Pataliputra and Nawada seats respectively.

On Wednesday, the BJP’s own Kushwaha leader Samrat Choudhary, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and state party president, placed his turban in the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Choudhary, who had once vowed that he would take off his turban only after Nitish Kumar was dethroned as the CM – but became one of the state’s two Deputy CMs in the new NDA government this January – clarified that as Nitish has now become the NDA CM. he has fulfilled his pledge to offer his turban to Lord Ram in Ayodhya.

These developments may not be directly linked, but they tell the story of the BJP’s dilemma with regard to the Kushwaha community, especially after the defeat of Upendra Kushwaha in the Lok Sabha polls amid clear hints that the Kushwaha votes are drifting away from the NDA.

On the other hand, two of the Opposition Mahagathbandhan alliance’s seven Kushwaha candidates won in the Lok Sabha polls. While the CPI(ML)’s Raja Ram Singh defeated the Independent candidate Pawan Singh in Karakat to send Upendra Kushwaha to the third spot, the RJD’s Abhay Kushwaha won from Aurangabad, defeating the incumbent BJP MP Sushil Kumar Singh.

Festive offer

Now that Nitish, who is believed to be the prime stakeholder of the state’s 7% Luv-Kush (Kurmi-Koeri) votes, is back in the NDA, and Upendra Kushwaha is being nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping that the Kushwaha votes would return to the NDA fold for the 2025 Assembly polls. Although Upendra had not directly blamed the BJP for fielding Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh in Karakat, he did express his angst after his defeat by hinting at some “foul play”.

Sensing the unease, the BJP realized that Upendra was still the lone pan-Bihar Kushwaha leader, whose resentment could hurt the party’s prospects in the Assembly polls. A BJP leader said: “Soon after Upendra Kushwaha lost the poll, there was a message from the BJP’s top brass that something important would be done for him.” With two Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in Bihar, and the NDA expected to get both of them going by their numbers, the BJP made an early announcement about Upendra’s nomination, setting all speculations to rest.

Upendra told The Indian Express: “I am very happy that the NDA leadership has announced my nomination to the Rajya Sabha… I was not angry with anyone. Whatever I had said after the election results was a normal expression. I firmly believe that victory and loss are part of the game. I will now try to focus on my upcoming responsibility and how I could contribute more to Bihar.”

Samrat Choudhary, who has been trying to become the BJP’s Kushwaha face in Bihar, might have to wait for it. His rapid rise in the BJP, from first being appointed the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Legislative Council, and then the BJP state president and deputy CM in a matter of five years, shows how the party has been trying to get its own Kushwaha face.

A BJP leader said: “Now that we have Nitish Kumar and Upendra Kushwaha on our side, and Samrat doing well, we have three leaders to boost our Luv-Kush constituency that began to drift towards the Mahagathbandhan in the Lok Sabha polls. We will have to keep nursing this constituency to deny any political advantage to the RJD-led alliance.”