With his "kheer" comment stirring up the political cauldron in Bihar, Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha today sought to refute suggestions that it was an overture to the RJD, saying he had "neither sought milk from the RJD nor sugar from the BJP".
Mr Kushwaha, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief, asserted that his party was making efforts to bring on vote from every section of the society so as to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi in getting a second term after 2019 polls.
Mr Kushwaha, the Union minister of State for Human Resource Development, said on Sunday that a delicious "kheer" can be prepared with milk from the Yadavs and rice from the Kushwahas, apparently hinting at a political realignment.
Replying to queries he said today, "Things should be explained in a proper manner... I did not say anything in terms of any particular party or community. My statement should not be viewed or looked in a manner in which it is being done."
Asked about his response if the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was ready to give milk for making "kheer", Mr Kushwaha asserted, "I have neither sought milk from the RJD nor sugar from the BJP. I had not taken the name of any party or any community. So, where and how did the RJD come into the picture ?... Why are you (media) viewing a particular community as a particular party ?"
"Yaduvanshiyon ka dudh aur Kushwansiyon ka chawal mil jaye to kheer ban sakti hai (kheer can be prepared with the milk from the Yadavs and rice from the Kushwahas)," he said during a function organised by his party on Sunday to mark the 100th birth anniversary of late B P Mandal, a former chief minister of Bihar.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has time and again invited Mr Kushwaha to align with the RJD, grabbed the opportunity and said yesterday that "kheer prepared with love and affection is delicious, energetic and full of nutrition".
Of late, Mr Kushwaha has been embarrassing the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar with his statements.
He has been critical of the Bihar government and had in the past even suggested Mr Kumar to voluntarily "give up the bid" for a fourth term in office in 2020.
The Union minister had also said, "We will get the sugar from Brahmins, Tulsi from Choudharyji (RLSP Bihar chief Bhudev Choudhary) and can make delicious kheer with the dry-fruits from the extremely backward classes and Dalits and Dastarkhan from the house of our minority community. Then we can relish the delicious kheer together."
Iterating it, Mr Kushwaha said everyone should get equal share of the "kheer", apparently hinting at just and fair seat-sharing among the NDA partners in Bihar.
"No one should get more or less than his/her share. This is a social justice. If such an atmosphere is created only then any society, state or the country can be strengthened," he said.
Mr Kushwaha, however, showed a soft corner for RJD chief Lalu Prasad and said, "I am not among those who criticise even Prasad's shadow and create tension in the society." He did not name anyone.
RJD leader and MLA Bhai Virendra said that everything has been discussed and the announcement with regard to Kushwaha joining the grand alliance is merely a matter of time.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) chief and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, an RJD ally, asked Mr Kushwaha "not to sail on two boats" and said that he would welcome Mr Kushwaha if he joins the grand alliance.
"Our alliance leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will also welcome him... I had told Lalu Prasad on an earlier occasion that we should take the RLSP in the grand alliance if he wishes so."
The RLSP's partners in Bihar -- the BJP and the JD(U) -- chose to tread cautiously and tried to downplay Mr Kushwaha's "kheer" remark.
"What Kushwahaji has said seemed like a proverb. Rice, milk and sugar belonged to everyone ... One should not read anything more in it as Kushwahaji has already taken a resolve to make Narendra Modiji prime minister in 2019 again," Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai told PTI.
JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Niraj Kumar said, "It seems more of a proverb than anything else ... Upendra Kushwaha had played an important role in uprooting the 'jungle raj' from Bihar and he is with the NDA.
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.