Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Tejashwi broadening Lalu’s agenda in today’s context, says Manoj Jha
India today is an overwhelmingly young country and Tejashwi understands the concerns and aspirations of the new generation, says the RJD national spokespersonUpdated: Oct 22, 2020, 10:40 IST
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) national spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha has said there is a yearning for change in poll-bound Bihar. Jha spoke to Arun Kumar about the polls, their one million jobs promise, and other related issues. Edited excerpts:
How do you see RJD’s prospects?
We have taken a progressive and practical agenda to the people and received a great response. Tejashwi Yadav, the party leadership, and the cadre have been working actively among people since the [Covid-19] lockdown. And RJD has been vocal over the people’s issues. We have done our best to highlight them at all possible forums. We are doing our best; presenting solutions to the issues that concern Bihar, talking about them in a constructive manner, and have been working on the ground to connect with the people. We are confident the people would recognise our work and political will to work for them and support us.
What makes you so confident?
There is a public health crisis. There is widespread economic distress that threatens to affect the lives and livelihoods of millions. Our social fabric is under extreme duress. These are a clear result of the government’s misplaced priorities and mismanagement. We have seen both anger and hope among the people of Bihar in the past few weeks. Anger with the government which has failed the people on multiple counts. And hope that after 15 years, there an opportunity for progressive change.
Is Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)’s exit from the National Democratic Alliance going to help RJD?
We have had immense respect for the late [LJP leader] Ramvilas Paswan and feel that it is particularly important to recognise his legacy. However, this is the issue that needs to be discussed between the concerned parties. Our campaign is people-oriented and we are building our agenda rather than reacting to changing equations and arithmetic.
Ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has called Tejashwi’s Yadavs promise for one million jobs unrealistic...
Well, it is a very realistic promise. We have spoken to economists and administration veterans to work this out. At least half of the promised jobs already exist. They just have not been filled. These are sanctioned posts which means they have been budgeted for. Ministries and departments, if one looks at the data, are not being able to spend their budgets fully. What exists today is a classic example of underdevelopment. There is money but it is either not being spent or mismanaged. Once again, the lack of jobs in Bihar is not because of the lack of money but because the government has not been able to spend it for the people’s betterment.
Has Tejashwi Yadav been able to evolve out of the shadow of Lalu Prasad, who remains under attack?
Laluji has been and will remain our leader. He has consistently worked for the poorest and the marginalised and that continues to be our larger orientation. Under Tejashwi Yadav’s leadership, we are broadening this agenda, especially with the multiple crises our country and our state faces. India today is an overwhelmingly young country and he understands the concerns and aspirations of the new generation. Tejashwi Yadav is broadening the agenda set by Laluji in the contemporary context.
How do you see JD-U’s 15 years versus RJD’s 15 years fight? Does it make you uncomfortable?
There are two ways of answering this. One, even critics, however grudgingly, recognise Laluji’s period of governance pivotal for the issues of social justice. Without social justice, there can be no development. And two, both the 15 years periods need to be looked into the broader context of the pace and nature of national development. The 90s and early 2000s cannot possibly be compared straightforwardly with the subsequent 15 years. In fact, what this comparison actually reveals is that Bihar, under the current leadership, could not capitalise on the gains made nationally until 2014. From 2014 onwards, it is a sorry state of affairs with both the central and state governments failing to protect the people’s interests. What is JD-U’s view today on demonetisation, GST, sudden and unplanned lockdown, farm bills, etc? Do they think these policies have helped Bihar’s people?