The art of adjustment is a valuable asset in Indian politics and on Wednesday RJD chief Lalu Prasad hinted this would be crucial to the so-called Janata Parivar’s survival as the yet-to-be-official alliance prepares to take on a surging BJP in this year’s Bihar election.
In an exclusive interview with HT, Prasad emphasised that the merger was on while rubbishing media reports about growing differences between the Rashtriya Janata Dal and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).
“Lalu is committed to fighting communal forces. If I could arrest BJP leader LK Advani (during his 1990 rath yatra), caring two hoots for the chair, what prevents me now when I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I don’t require anybody’s certificate. Had I compromised with my principles, I would have made great personal gains by now.”
Six Indian socialist parties are expected to come together as the Parivar, in a bid to emerge as a national-level force to take on the BJP’s election juggernaut that has flattened opposition in state after state.
But the merger is likely to be forged only after the Bihar polls with signs of growing strain between Prasad and Kumar over allocation of seats.
“The reality is different from what is being propagated through vested interests. We will go for horses for courses in the selection of candidates. If I have to make an adjustment at a few places, that is fine,” the RJD chief said.
Calling Nitish Kumar his “younger brother”, Prasad argued he stood with the JD (U) in troubled times to keep the state government afloat just to prevent the BJP from grabbing power.
“Remember, Bihar is crucial for the BJP. If it makes inroads into Bihar, it would not have trouble spreading to West Bengal. This is the time for all the parties to view things realistically to wage a decisive battle,” he observed. “Lalu has been made a villain for ushering in social justice. My government was branded ‘jungle raj’, as the voiceless got voice in that period.”
Media reports suggest the differences exacerbated after RJD’s national vice-president and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s open opposition to projection of Nitish Kumar as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.
“Raghuvansh Babu is a well-intentioned man, but sometimes he is misquoted or his statements are misconstrued. I have no differences with Nitish Kumar. But yes, if you put the same question to 10 different political leaders, they all may have different perspectives and versions,” Prasad said. “The fact is that we have to fight the BJP, not amongst ourselves.”