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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Only Nitish can stop BJP's divisive force: Prakash Jha
Sagar Suraj, Hindustan Times
May 06, 2014
First Published: 15:52 IST(6/5/2014)
Last Updated: 21:08 IST(6/5/2014)

Noted filmmaker Prakash Jha has been fielded by Janata Dal United from Bettiah parliamentary seat against Sanjay Jaiswal, sitting Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Raghunath Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

In 2009, Jha joined politics and fought on a Lok Janshakti Party ticket, but ultimately lost the elections.

Jha has faith in chief minister Nitish Kumar's development agenda and his clean image, which he believes, will help him win the seat this time.

Here he tells Sagar Suraj about his priorities as a politician.

You made successful films like Ganga Jal and Apharan. Do you think, such story lines are still relevant to Bihar?
Those times of chaos and criminality have long subsided and under the new regime of Nitish Kumar, criminals have only one place - in the jail. Law and order has improved. There is no jungle raj.

Bihar has developed all round and that has cut the ground from under the kidnappers who made an industry out of abduction of people and crime. The infamous kidnapping industry of Champaran jungle gangs has been resigned to the dustbin and people can move freely.

The fate of voters too, is not under the influence of bahubalis, mafias and jungle gangs. They can decide on their own without fear or favour.

There are also good network of roads, better schools and health and Bihar's image has improved beyond recognition.

That has also created the platform for people with clean image to take to politics and bring politics centrestage as a career worth pursuing.

Fortunately, that also means, that I do not have to make films on issues which haunted and depressed me.

If the present election of your constituency is taken as a theme for a movie, who do you suppose, will be the villain?
Undoubtedly, those divisive forces trying to divide the nation are the villains of the piece and it is Nitish Kumar, the man who snapped his ties with such forces, the popular hero. Had he not done that, the poison of communalism would have spread in virulent fashion throughout India.

In movies, people love heroes for their virtues and are one with them in beating the villain's plot. This time too, the people of Bihar will follow the hero and win to secure Bihar's destiny.

I firmly believe, my hero Nitish Kumar has done so much, that he deserves fully to be awarded by the people. His hands need to be strengthened to tame communal forces. He alone is the leader who dreams of keeping Bihar united, like one great family. All others are divisive.

From such a successful film maker to a politician? Why?
India has a great democratic set up. We have made various movies on the socio-economic and political scenarios - all of which have been highly acclaimed. Indian films are earthy, with their ears to the ground.

The portrayal of issues closely follow societal happenings. It was, while making such films, that I strongly came to believe, that if one truly wants to serve the society and nation, politics could be a great way. You get to minutely observe the problems, study them and use the opportunity to correct the systemic problems.

However, raising such issues on the silver screen or periodic agitations do not help. There have to be solutions, which are more important. Politics provides that opportunity and the peoples backing, the power to reform. That's why I opted for politics.

You lost the last election as a LJP candidate. How does it help your chances with JD(U)?
I believe, I and my leader, both have a clean and hardworking image. What Nitishji has done is to radically alter the realities, which lead to a plethora of positives. His work is undisputed and it is all around for one to see.

There is a strong anti-incumbency against the sitting BJP parliamentarian this time. And Nitish Kumar has to be paid his wages for the hard-work to continue to work for development of Bihar.

Only he in Bihar has the capability to stop the BJP at the Centre, which in turn will save the nation. Others pay lip service to such a principle, but always with vested interests in their mind. I believe, such a scenario is to our advantage.

You haven't roped in Bollywood stars for your campaign this time…
Why count me out… I am a star! (Laughs). This job is about convincing people, not putting blinkers. I can convince them too. It has to be the candidate himself, who has to be convinced about his own relevance before he convinces others about his party's policies. I believe, I have been successful in that.

So, there is no room for Bollywood here since people vote for work, not glitter and the sole agenda is the change Bihar has witnessed under Nitish Kumar and what it promises for the future.

What would be your priority for this constituency, if you are elected to Parliament?
Ensuring maximum reach of government funds to this district and upliftment of marginalised people, meet aspirations of the people who live in jungles and executing each development work planned by the JD(U) is of utmost priority. There will be no compromise of funds, intent or in execution.


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