In the last few days, Ram Kripal Yadav grabbed headlines, first because of his split with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and his spat with party boss Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti. Yadav, who has now joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the party's candidate from Pataliputra, Bihar. In an interview with HT’s Anirban Guha Roy, Yadav talks about the big move, the blatant dynastic politics that drove him to it, his relationship with Misa and his admiration for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Did you leave the RJD because you were not given a ticket from Pataliputra?
It is true, I took the decision with a heavy heart. But I had no option left. I felt RJD has totally got detached from its principles of social justice. Instead, it has now adopted the ideology of 'parivarik nyay (family justice)'. I had my aspirations but the party never respected it.
Was RJD's bid to make Misa Bharti a candidate from Pataliputra wrong?
I was always open to the idea of former chief minister Rabri Devi being fielded from the seat. I even said the ticket should go to an ordinary worker. But giving the ticket to Misa reflected a blatant promotion of family rule. It has demoralised lakhs of party workers.
You were a strong BJP baiter and called Narendra Modi a person with blood-stained hands. Your take.
Narendra Modi has already got a cleanchit in the Gujarat riots. And, he has done remarkable development work in Gujarat. I am impressed by BJP's development agenda. The country needs development and not empty sloganeering on secularism. In his speech, Modi has outlined how Muslims in Bihar are still facing economic backwardness vis a vis their brethren in Gujarat. But I want to reiterate that I am secular and will remain so forever.
The RJD chief has accused you of running away with the lock, key and suitcase of the party?
I never backstabbed or betrayed anyone. I kept guard of the party's lock, key and suitcase like an honest worker for 30 years. But I was ignored. In RJD, the rule of one family prevails. I served the party since my initial days as councillor but had to sacrifice a lot. I was never made a minister in the UPA-I government.
There are chances the campaign in Pataliputra between you and Misa may be filled with acrimony ?
My relationship with Misa will always be that of a chacha (uncle) and bhatihji (niece). I will fight the election on issues such as development, law and order, infrastructure and not on a superfluous agenda. I have no hard feelings for anybody. There is no question of acrimony.
Do you expect to win the Pataliputra seat on BJP ticket, when you are identified as an old RJD face?
Certainly, I have all the chances of winning. I have nursed this seat for the last two decades and enjoy support across sections, be it upper castes, backward classes or Muslims.