Jamui MP and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan is young and feels the youth of the state want to see Bihar develop like other states. Talking to Arun Kumar, he expresses confidence that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will get two-thirds majority, as people have observed all the constituents of the Grand Alliance - Congress, RJD and JD(U) - in power since independence and know it is because of them that they have remained devoid of even the basic facilities.
Where do you see Bihar’s development debate heading in the midst of political rhetoric?
There is a question mark on both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, and on the Congress, when it comes to talking about Bihar’s development. All three should answer why Bihar has remained where it was since independence, while other states marched ahead. The Congress ruled for 42 years, the RJD for 15 years and Nitish for 10 years. They must answer, not question.
How do you view the development in the state?
The kind of struggle Bihar people have faced so far reflects a yawning gap. Other states talk about metros, industries, multiplexes and bullet trains, while here even the basic amenities are not available. People in Bihar are concerned about roads, hand pumps and electricity, and they know who is responsible for all this. Lakhs of people have to migrate from Bihar to join the workforce in other states as they don’t have opportunities here. I have seen them face humiliation in Mumbai and other parts, but they have no other option. Who is responsible for all this?
Why is development still not the key agenda?
It is because of the Grand Alliance leaders. The people cannot trust them for development. The people are angry, they want development, but those responsible for the lack of it want to shift focus. Lalu will talk about beef and Yaduvanshis, Nitish will talk about DNA and reservation just to deflect people’s attention from the core issues. Nitish also made the Land Acquisition Bill a big issue. When the states are free to make their own laws, he should answer what he has done in Bihar to bring in more investment and industries. He could do nothing but he tried to challenge the Centre for political mileage. For the NDA, development remains the core agenda.
Is there a battle between Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi over Dalit leadership in Bihar?
Amitabh Bachchan is the superstar of Bollywood, but many actors who came after him did a lot of good work and left a big impact. They made a place for themselves, but Amitabh Bachchan remained where he is. My father has had a political career spanning 46 years; he was a nine-time Lok Sabha MP and once in the Rajya Sabha. Twice he made into the Guinness Book of Records for winning with the highest margin. He has had the opportunity to work with six PMs. His record is unmatched. The section Manjhi represents also deserves more space. There is no tussle. Manjhi is like family. There is a lot of space to accommodate more leaders. It will only help the society grow.
How do you see NDA’s prospects?
The NDA had set out with a target of 185-plus. In the last two-three months that I have travelled to different parts of the state, I can tell you there is a strong undercurrent for change and people’s attraction of the NDA has been growing. The youth want a Bihar that could fulfil their aspirations.
Has the noise over beef and reservation affected the elections?
Lalu has been trying to mislead the people and create confusion, as he has nothing to show for as his achievement. In the process, he has been scoring ‘self-goals’. The first self-goal was when he talked about Hindus eating beef, while the second came when his sons filed their nomination papers. There is talk about his sons’ age and education. When Laluji could not ensure his sons’ education, how will he take care of the education of Bihar’s youth? For them, education is the prime concern.
Did Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on reservation create problems for the NDA?
No. An attempt was made to mislead people. It is not a political issue. The RSS is free to present its views on anything; it cannot be termed a political decision. We can only talk when there is a political issue. The BJP has cleared its stand that it supports reservation and there is no change in the constitutional provision. In fact, its main objective of social and economic uplift of SC/ST, EBC, BC and minorities is yet to be achieved.
Is going to polls without a CM candidate against Nitish-led GA a handicap?
No, it is no handicap. We are going to polls under collective leadership (and) people understand this. The democratic process also warrants that the MLAs should have the right to elect their leader. When the time comes, it will happen. Wherever the NDA has gone with collective leadership, results have been quite good.
Internal differences in the LJP have also come to the fore. Your own brother-in-law was upset.
There is a problem among us. When we give a ticket to any family member, we have to face questions. When we deny a ticket to a family member, we are still asked questions. But, yes, I feel a family issue should remain within the family. We, however, sorted it out and my brother-in-law has understood the matter. There is no love lost here.
Being a youth, how do you view the youth’s role in this election?
I have been rigorously campaigning and have covered almost all panchayats. I also campaigned during the Lok Sabha elections. It is not only the youth, but women, especially college girls, are also coming to my public meetings in large numbers. That shows their urge for change. I am happy they want Bihar’s development. A recent survey showed me as the most popular youth leader. I am working hard to live up to people’s expectations.