Interview | National

BJP will keep Nitish Kumar as a spare tyre to use when required: Tejashwi Yadav

RJD leader and Bihar Assembly Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad.

RJD leader and Bihar Assembly Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

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RJD leader says 2019 and 2020 election will be fought between his party and the BJP in Bihar as the Chief Minister’s party will be reduced to a non-entity

With the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) retaining the Jehanabad Assembly seat and the Araria Lok Sabha seat in the recent byelections in the first electoral contest after party supremo Lalu Prasad was sent to prison in the fodder scam cases, 28-year-old Tejashwi Yadav has underscored his position as party leader. At his official residence at 5 Deshratna Marg in Patna, Mr. Yadav speaks of the byelection results and the consequent incidents of communal violence in the State.

How do you see the Araria and Jehanabad results?

Both Araria and Jehanabad were not the traditional seats of the RJD and we’ve been sometimes winning, sometimes losing them in the previous polls. But this time, our candidates not only retained both the seats with comfortable margins but even our vote share increased substantially. And all this happened even after the BJP had brought its party workers and RSS cadres from other States to polarise voters on communal lines in Araria. We got support not only from our traditional Muslim-Yadav base, but from all sections of society ... even upper caste Brahmins supported us. We were sure that that we are going to win the Araria Lok Sabha byelection the moment State BJP president Nityanand Rai said at a public meeting that if the RJD candidate won the polls, Araria would become a hub of terror.

What was the message of the byelection results?

Though not much is to be read from the byelection results, it certainly is a reflection of the mood of the people of the State, even in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. It has given the message for the BJP that you can fool some people once but you cannot fool all the people all the time. But still, I must say, we are not satisfied with the byelection results as we have to work harder. We will devise our strategy in a few days for the 2019 elections.

What do you think went in your favour in the byelection?

Broadly, there were five factors: first, people have realized Lalu Prasadji has been falsely implicated in the fodder scam cases and sent to jail under a well-hatched conspiracy by the BJP with Nitish Kumar in cahoots; second, it was the ban on sand mining that has affected millions of poor families; third, it was the stringent prohibition law under which over a lakh people, mostly poor, have been arrested; fourth was that the relief package has not reached millions of people in the 19 flood-affected districts of north Bihar, and fifth, the Nitish government failed to get a special package and special status for Bihar. Who will now believe them [BJP and Nitish Kumar]?

How difficult was it for you to lead the party, lead the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), in your father’s absence?

Well, I always look back when my mother, Rabri Devi, had to pull the party through to remain in power and run a family with nine little children in 1997 when my father Lalu Prasad was sent to jail.

One can imagine how difficult it must have been for her. So, for me, the situation has, of course, been difficult in the absence of my father, but I drew my inspiration from my mother. And, I am also thankful to my chacha [uncle], Nitish Kumar, for giving me such an opportunity to face such challenges in life.

Where do you find Nitish Kumar in the present political scenario in the State?

He himself has to introspect. He always says he does politics of development. But what happened in Jehanabad, just 100 km from the State capital of Patna, where his party’s candidate lost the polls with a big margin?

The upcoming elections in 2019 and 2020 in the State will be fought between the RJD and the BJP in Bihar as Nitish Kumar’s party will be decimated to a non-entity. Nitish Kumar’s oft-repeated statement that he had come out of the Mahagathbandhan to join hands with the BJP in the interest of Bihar was completely rejected by the people.

The BJP will keep him as a ‘stepney’ to use as and when they require.

Why have BJP leaders suddenly started making controversial statements that have apparently not gone down well even with their alliance partner Nitish Kumar?

You see, this has been BJP’s agenda since the beginning. When they realize that they will not win elections on their own, they take to spreading communal hatred and strife to polarise voters . You must have seen that after the by-poll defeat, some BJP leaders, who are union ministers as well, have started pushing hard to foment communal tension in Araria, Bhagalpur and Darbhanga . But, people are not dumb here that they will sense their design. Let the 2019 elections come and all the BJP’s agendas will fail — for how long will they play divisive politics?.

How do you see the Cambridge Analytica controversy?

You see, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are the only politicians in the country who take the help of PR agencies like Cambridge Analytica to win elections and create a hype over development works and promises. If the son of K.C. Tyagi is not involved in all this, shouldn’t he come before the camera and explain to the people?

Will RJD accept Rahul Gandhi as a leader of Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in 2019 general elections? Who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of Mahagathbandhan?

Congress is a national party and a bigger party even in terms of number of MPs, so if other parties come along RJD will not have any problem accepting the leader of the Congress party as leader of the Mahagathbandhan. As far as who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of Mahagathbandhan is concerned, I think, even the Congress party has not ever disclosed it before the elections. When the situation will arise, we all alliance partners will sit together and take a decision unanimously.

Do you think BJP maneuvered to put your family in trouble by implicating most of the members in corruption charges?

Yes. Is there any doubt about it?.They got afraid of Lalu Prasad’s effort to unite all Opposition parties against BJP and here in Bihar Nitish Kumar got afraid of me, a 28 year old boy. In fact, Nitish Kumar is more responsible than BJP for all the trouble our family is facing today. In fact they have connived to finish Lalu Prasad as they are afraid of his political mass base. I fear for my father's life. But, let me remind them that more we’ll face trouble, the more strongly we would come out.

But, what was the need of Nitish Kumar to implicate you in corruption charges and come out of Mahagatbandhan when he was running the government as chief minister?

Lust for power and fear. What else? May be he wanted to set a world record of being the longest chief minister of a state and got afraid of my acceptability in masses. And fear from BJP which could have played some dirty tricks to blackmail him or make him bend at their beck. Nitish Kumar cannot live without power and he doesn’t hold any support base. He remains in power making all these Machiavellian moves and dirty tricks, calculations.

You are said to be Bihar’s most eligible bachelor and recently your mother, Rabri Devi, said your marriage will surprise everyone. How will it be a surprise?

(Laughs) … I really do not know anything about it. I can only say it will be arranged by my parents and happen in due course of time. (Earlier, when Tejashwi Yadav was Deputy CM, he received 44,000 marriage proposals on his WhatsApp id).

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:10:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bjp-will-keep-nitish-kumar-as-a-spare-tyre-to-use-when-required-tejashwi-yadav/article23344105.ece

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