Seeking re-election from the Muzaffarpur constituency in Bihar as an independent candidate after being denied a party ticket, veteran socialist and JD(U) leader George Fernandes is undeterred and hopes that he can win the seat as a “people’s candidate”.
“I will be there,” the 79-year-old frail looking leader told PTI, days after filing his nomination as an independent candidate from Muzaffarpur.
He was responding to a question on whether he is confident of entering the Lok Sabha again after his party had cast doubts on his health condition.
“I am fit to contest polls. People’s desires will come true. People are going to win and not me. I am a people’s candidate. I am not an independent. I am contesting because my people said I will have to be there. I have to be there. I am grateful to them.”
“Election is not for me but for the people. I have appealed to the people of Muzaffarpur to vote for the candidate who works for them and I have worked for them,” he said.
Asked why the party denied him ticket if he felt fit to contest, Fernandes said, “I do not know why they thought so.”
However, Fernandes refused to speak against the party, which has fielded Captain Jai Narayan Nishad from the seat.
“I am not opposing any one,” he asked when asked whom he is opposing JD-U or Nishad.
"I was behind the formation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)," Fernandes said and claimed that the BJP-led coalition will come back to power after the Lok Sabha polls.
Asked whether he is still the NDA convenor, he said: "Yes I am."
BJP appointed JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav as the acting convenor of the coalition after Fernandes fell ill last year.
Fernandes said the NDA is on a strong foot in Bihar and will notch up good number of seats.
Indignant at party leaders' statements that Fernandes is not in his pink of health and he should not contest elections, he said, "Do they come to me to show concern about my health. They are not sincere...Or concerned. I know who and what they are...They are saying it because they have to remove me."
He also denied statements by senior JD-U leaders that Fernandes is being egged on to contest by some people close to him and it was not his own decision.
"Nobody is forcing me. Contesting the Lok Sabha election is my decision. I am not being misled by any one. Of course people close to me are lending their support because they know I serve people," he said.
He also dismissed statements issued by his estranged wife Leila Kabir Fernandes and one of his brothers that he should not contest and said, "Some people, my own people are angry at me...They not happy to see me in this position." (more)
Asked to comment on the party's suggestion that he should accept a Rajya Sabha nomination, Fernandes said," I will never go to Rajya Sabha...Never."
"My whole life has been with the people and nothing else. It's people, who are arranging everything for me," he said.
Asked whether he felt his party could take any action against him for contesting against its official nominee, Fernandes wondered, "What action they will take."
To query whether there was any pressure from JD-U leadership on him to withdraw from the contest, he replied in negative saying,"No they (JD-U leaders) have not even spoken to me...Not at all."
Asked whether he could withdraw finally in favour of JD-U candidate, Fernandes said, "No never."