As six parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (United), merge ahead of Bihar elections, Union communications & IT minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad questions the longevity of this political formation. In an interview to HT, he says the OBC vote bank remains with the BJP because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Excerpts:
The BJP appears quite optimistic about its prospects in Bihar elections. With the so-called Janata Parivar a reality now, how would it affect your future?
Can Nitish Kumar promise good governance riding on the legacy of jungle raj? Bihar is limping. Law and order has become chaotic and the government stands paralysed. It is to be recognised that the BJP element of the Nitish Kumar government was the pillar of stability and rationale for good governance.
How serious a threat does the Janata Parivar pose to the BJP in Bihar?
I seriously doubt their longevity in view of past experience. Earlier, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were together. Kumar then formed the Samata Party. Prasad sided with Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan but both left. Therefore, for how long will this new fluctuating arrangement of political convenience continue?
But don’t you think the emergence of the Janata Parivar may result in the consolidation of OBCs/EBCs and minority votes?
Narendra Modi is the finest example of a man born in poverty and belonging to a backward community being elected as PM for leadership and good governance. Backward castes are with us. I am happy Nitish Kumar is shaking hands with Narendra Modi and having dinner with him on formal occasions. The heritage of Bihar abhors arrogance and political untouchability.
People in Bihar voted for Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections. What is your USP in assembly elections?
Politics of Bihar has travelled away from the politics of identity to politics of hope, which an ordinary Bihari wants. This can happen with good governance and a political formation which can work in coordination with the Centre.