Senior RJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj K. Jha speaks to The Hindu days ahead of cabinet formation in Bihar. The coming together of RJD and JD(U) Mr. Jha, asserts will leave BJP with just two-seats in 2024 Lok Sabha polls from Bihar. Presently the BJP has 17 out of the 40 seats in the State and NDA together which included JD(U) has 39 of the 40.
What prompted RJD to go back on its own assertions to never tie-up again with Nitish Kumar and the JD(U)?
All such assertions have to be seen in the present context. We had to take into account the events of Maharashtra where BJP’s machinations led to fall of an elected government or Jharkhand where Hemant Soren government was threatened. In Bihar, too there is ample evidence that BJP was out to finish JD(U) and break other parties too. In that context, all those assertions have to be revisited. Ultimately what is politics meant for, to make sure, that Constitution and Democracy is protected and preserved. It was in this backdrop that Tejashwi ji and RJD did what was best and what was needed.
How is the 2022 Mahagatbandhan different from 2015 Mahagathbandhan?
Changed course of history is the difference. Nitish ji regretted his 2017 decision saying that he was misled by a few people. Also remember, in 2015 we came together as electoral partners, this time our partnership is based on the common goal to protect democracy from BJP who are out to finish the regional parties. The other big difference is that in 2015, Narendra Modi’s BJP was just one-year-old, we were yet to see all its shades. By 2022 we have seen enough. Their desire is to replicate a China here to establish one-party polity.
How will you both communicate this nuance to the voters and escape the label of being parties that change positions far too frequently?
We believe that the voters have an agency. Bihar may be a poor state but our voters are far more vigilant. This decision to come together is also dictated by demand from the ground. BJP President JP Nadda’s comments that only BJP shall remain standing, created a sentiment that their rampage against the regional forces must be stalled.
How long will this alliance last?
Mark my words, this question won’t be asked again, we are going to last for good. We are going to make sure, that out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, BJP won’t win more than two seats in the 2024 general elections. And their tally will also be reduced in Jharkhand too.
The opposition is euphoric after what they call a “secular” change in Bihar. But isn’t the opposition unity a mythical fable. And in the rare instances like 1977, 1989 or 1996 when they have united, they have failed to deliver stable governments. Isn’t it hyperbolic to say that Bihar will impact rest of the nation?
Stability or instability should be seen from a larger perspective. If you compare the governance model of the so-called unstable coalition government they have delivered far more pro-people decisions. I would say that the myth that a single party majoritarian rule will usher India into a new era has been debunked. The present union government has failed on every indices be it economic or social development. Yes, I agree that opposition parties get euphoric, but the message from our reunion should be jettison your ego, learn to sit together and begin a conversation. It is essential for the opposition to remember to put the nation ahead of their own priorities.
Is the call “Nitish for PM” an empty rhetoric or is it based on any understanding.
As Tejashwi ji said, that Nitish ji is one of the most experienced politicians in the country. But at the same time, he has said this and I reiterate, the question is not Narendra Modi versus who? The question is Narendra Modi’s idea of India versus what? The opposition has to arrive at a common progressive programme and vision.
The far more difficult task of cabinet formation lies ahead. Have you evolved a power sharing formula?
Everything has been discussed between the two leaders Nitish ji and Tejashwi ji as also other alliance partners. In the next few days the new cabinet will be in place.
Is there also an agreement between the JD(U) and RJD to hand over the Bihar baton to Tejashwi Yadav in 2024?
Nobody can predict what will happen. As of now it is not part of the discussion.