NDA Nominates Upendra Kushwaha to Rajya Sabha as Community’s Clout Grows

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Strategic move ahead of Bihar assembly elections reflects shifting political dynamics

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), entrenched in power both in Bihar and at the Centre, has decided to nominate Upendra Kushwaha to the Rajya Sabha. It is a significant and strategic move and underscores the increasing influence of Kushwaha leaders in Bihar’s evolving political landscape, particularly as parties gear up for the impending state assembly elections.

The elevation of Upendra Kushwaha to the upper house of parliament, after he lost the recent Lok Sabha elections, signals a calculated strategy by the NDA to consolidate support within the influential Kushwaha community. Kushwaha, known for his political acumen and erstwhile association with Nitish Kumar, had previously formed his own political outfit following a rift with the chief minister.

“The decision to send Upendra Kushwaha to the Rajya Sabha is a strategic manoeuvre aimed at strengthening our alliance’s foothold among the Kurmi, Koiri, and Kushwaha voters,” commented a senior NDA leader, highlighting the alliance’s emphasis on community representation ahead of crucial electoral battle.

The political dynamics in Bihar, once dominated by the Yadav-Muslim electoral equation, are undergoing a transformation with the rising prominence of the Kushwaha community.

In a parallel move, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has bolstered the representation of Kushwaha leaders within his party, appointing Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha to the Legislative Council and endorsing Samrat Chaudhary — a prominent figure from the community — as the state president and deputy chief minister under BJP’s banner.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has also pivoted its political strategy by appointing Abhay Kushwaha, a prominent leader from the community, as the parliamentary party leader in the Lok Sabha. This tactical realignment underscores RJD’s efforts to penetrate the voter base traditionally aligned with Nitish Kumar.

“The increasing significance of Kushwaha leaders reflects a recalibration in Bihar’s political equations,” remarked a political analyst, noting the strategic importance of caste dynamics in the state’s electoral landscape.

The pivotal role of the Kushwaha community was further underscored in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, where the NDA and INDIA bloc fielded nearly double the number of Kushwaha candidates compared to the 2019 polls. This concerted effort underscores a strategic shift aimed at solidifying support across Bihar’s diverse caste demographics.

Despite Upendra Kushwaha’s electoral defeat in the Karakat constituency, where CPI (ML) leader Raja Ram Singh emerged victorious, his nomination to the Rajya Sabha underscores the NDA’s commitment to retaining the allegiance of Kurmi, Koiri, and Kushwaha voters — key to Nitish Kumar’s political base.

“The alliance’s decision to nominate Upendra Kushwaha despite his defeat underscores their confidence in his leadership and his ability to mobilise the community’s support,” remarked a political observer familiar with Bihar’s political dynamics.

Looking forward, with less than 18 months until Bihar’s assembly elections, both the NDA and INDIA bloc are expected to intensify efforts to woo various caste groups, including the influential Kushwaha community, amidst evolving political alliances and voter loyalties.

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