Disgruntled Janata Dal-United parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday likened his rebellion to the challenge Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had thrown to Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad three decades ago.
Talking to reporters in Patna, the recalcitrant leader maintained that he had "boundless reverence" (agaadh shraddha) for Kumar but insisted that the septuagenarian was no longer able to exercise his own volition, resulting in JD-U's vulnerability.
"I have been asked to clarify what I meant by claiming my own share (hissa) in the party. I am doing that today", Kushwaha a former union minister said with rhetorical flourish.
"I am speaking of the same share that Nitish Kumar had demanded at the famous rally of 1994 when Lalu Prasad was reluctant to give our leader his due," he said.
Kushwaha was referring to 'Luv Kush' rally in Patna, a veritable gathering of Kurmis and Koeris upset with supposed hegemony of numerically powerful Yadavs which Prasad, then helming Bihar, was seen as embodying.
Kumar's presence at the rally had set the tone for his separation from the undivided Janata Dal and charting of an independent political journey.
Kushwaha, who had returned to JD-U in March, 2017, after merging his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, rued that as parliamentary board chief he enjoyed no powers.
The post was a mere "jhunjhuna" (a child's rattle), he said.
He also dismissed as a "lollipop" the membership of legislative council he was rewarded with soon after returning to JD-U.
"I have in the past renounced my berths in the Rajya Sabha and later in the union council of ministers ... The party may take back my party post and strip me of my status as an MLC if it thinks these are big privileges bestowed on me," he added testily.
Kushwaha claimed that unlike in 2013 when the JD-U had its first break up with the BJP, "the spectre of disintegration now looms large on our party".
He, however, evaded a direct reply when asked whether he felt the threat was from a resurgent RJD headed by Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav. "But I must point out that in his own public statements the CM has kept saying that all his moves, realignment with BJP in 2017, parting of ways last year and joining the Mahagathbandhan and even choice of candidates in elections have been at the instance of others. There lies the problem. He is not exercising his own judgement".
Kushwaha also alleged that the extremely backward classes are getting increasingly disenchanted with JD-U.
Referring to the attack on his convoy in Bhojpur district on Monday, Kushwaha alleged that the local administration had tried to hush up the matter and sought the personal intervention of either the director general of police or the chief secretary.