Interview | National

Bihar Assembly elections | All is well in Mahagathbandhan, says RJD leader Manoj Jha

RJD MP Manoj Jha. File

RJD MP Manoj Jha. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

A day after the first political meeting between the allies of the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha speaks on the Bihar Assembly election due later this year, the reluctance of the allies to work under RJD president Tejashwi Yadav and the resignation of Raghuvansh Prasad as the party national vice-president.

 

The allies of the Mahagathbandhan met for the first time through video-conference on Wednesday in an obvious attempt to show that all is well in the alliance, despite visible cracks. Your comments?

This was a very preliminary meeting, because of the pandemic we had been unable to come together. Each party was busy with its own programmes as the RJD was busy helping the migrant workers stuck in the cities. Yes, Wednesday’s meeting was the first political meeting we have had. The idea was to touch base with each other, to know each other’s mind and to arrive at a common platform.

But Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi has been criticising the RJD and has even set an ultimatum for formation of a coordination committee, thus bringing out the discordance between the allies.

Yes, since February, he has been asking for a coordination committee, February onwards, we have had a three-and-a-half-month lockdown. And we went by the “corona consensus” of suspending all political activities in this period. Mr. Manjhi has an easy access to us any time. He can walk in to meet Tejashwiji any time. A coordination committee is formed when you first decide on other issues such as the main concerns for election, strategy and a collective mind and will. I think it shall evolve in its natural course. There is nothing to worry or hurry.

Mr. Manjhi had to come down to Delhi to make this Wednesday’s meeting happen. Isn’t the RJD getting arrogant?

Look at the statements made by all our leaders, including Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav. Have we ever expressed any arrogance? We know our strength, and that strength has only taught us humility. As for Mr. Manjhi, he came to Delhi because Congress president Sonia Gandhi had convened this meeting.

With Lalu Prasad, it was different. Now questions are being raised about Tejashwi Yadav’s leadership. Is the RJD amenable to the idea of a consensus candidate chosen by all allies to lead the Mahagathbandhan in his place?

The question here is how is the leadership decided. A leader is chosen based on the vote share and followers he commands. We have the largest cadre base in Bihar and our rank and file want to see Tejashwi Yadav as the Chief Minister. There can’t be a second Lalu Prasad, that’s a fact. But then, this generation and the entire apparatus of our party wants Tejashwiji to lead this alliance. Our alliance parties, which apparently believe that there should be someone else, will also come on board once the election process gains momentum.

The question the allies are asking is that if the RJD leadership is not able to keep its flock together, how can it keep the alliance intact. This week we saw five of your MLCs jump the ship, we saw veteran leader Raghuvansh Prasad resign as vice-president

I will not equate the resignation of Raghuvansh Prasadji with that of the five MLCs. Raghuvanshji learnt from the media about the induction of an individual in the party and he expressed his displeasure about it. Tejashwiji is in touch with him. We all know Raghuvanshji will always remain in the RJD because the party is his creation, along with Lalu Prasad. He will never, ever disown his own creation; he is a man of commitment. Even in the roughest of weather, he has stuck to the party. As far as the MLCs are concerned, this episode is symptomatic of the chronic ailment that our politics is suffering from. The JD(U) has learnt a lot from the BJP, especially on how to employ dirty tricks.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:18:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bihar-assembly-election-all-is-well-in-mahagathbandhan-rjd-leader-manoj-jha/article31918449.ece

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