Will Tejashwi Yadav team up with Nitish Kumar post-polls? He answers
Pointing to the swelling crowds at his rallies, the RJD leader claimed that three-time chief minister Nitish Kumar is worried as the numbers at the rallies indicate people have made up their minds to replace the present dispensation.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 22:04 IST
Wrapping up 12 back-to-back election meetings of the day, RJD’s chief ministerial candidate Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav, 31, is awfully busy till late evening, meeting people from various constituencies, including his own Raghopur, and also taking updates of his election campaign from his team.
Having set the tone of the election campaign by poll promise of providing 10 lakh jobs to youths, the young Yadav scion is confident.
Pointing to the swelling crowds at his rallies, the RJD leader claimed that three-time chief minister Nitish Kumar is worried as the numbers at the rallies indicate people have made up their minds to replace the present dispensation.
Here are edited excerpts from RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad’s sitdown with HT’s Anirban Guha Roy.
Q. Your meetings are getting a good crowd. Will they translate into votes?
People are fed up with the Nitish Kumar government’s inefficiency. The huge turnout at my meetings is a reflection of their anger against the government. I am confident people are going to vote for us to bring about a change as they see hope in us for giving the state a new impetus for all round development, jobs to youths and uplift of the poor.
Q. Chief minister Nitish Kumar is calling you inexperienced and questioned how you will get money for providing 10 lakh jobs?
Our chief minister is a tired man now and cannot handle the state anymore. If I am inexperienced, why are 20 choppers of the NDA following me. All of them have now come together to fight a 31-year- old. It means, people are listening to me and lending support to my issues, especially our commitment to provide 10 lakh permanent jobs to youths by filling 4.5 lakh existing vacancies and also 5.5 lakh new jobs to improve the manpower required in various departments as per national average.
As for money to provide jobs is concerned, we can say fiscal prudence will help in mobilising funds. Only 60% of the state budget allocations are spent and rest 40% is unspent.
Besides, if CM Kumar is saying there are no funds, he should be held accountable for not doing good fiscal management in all these years. Are we responsible for it?
Q. In the last parliamentary election, the RJD did not get a single seat. Do you believe the party’s traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank will support it or will it move to the NDA like last time?
It’s a propaganda that the RJD counts on M-Y equations. We are not a party of M-Y but A to Z, getting votes over the decades from all sections of people. RJD chief Lalu Prasad would not have stayed in power had he got only M-Y votes. In 2019, the RJD contested 19 parliamentary seats and got around 20% votes. So did it all come from M-Y only. No. In this election, caste will not matter as this poll has become a people vs government election with a wave for change. In ticket distribution, we have given representation from all sections of people including EBCs , upper castes, minorities, scheduled castes and backward classes as we want to represent all sections of people.
Q. Is there a possibility of your party RJD realigning with chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in a post-poll arrangement in case there is a hung assembly?
Obviously not . These are all assumptions. Yeh hoga, toh kya hoga. Woh hoga toh, kya hoga( if A happens, then what will happen. If B happens, what will happen). Your question is that Nitish Kumar is leaving the BJP? The question of taking him back arises, if he leaves the BJP, isn’t it?
Has chief minister Nitish Kumar left the BJP? No. He is already with the BJP. Second, if there is a hung assembly, it will be seen as a mandate against the chief minister because it will be a reflection of people’s anger against him. So when people vote against him, then why would we take him? There is no question of any realignment with Nitish Kumar in the future.
At the same time, I want to emphasise that there will be no hung assembly this time as people will give a decisive mandate to us. We are coming to power with a comfortable majority on November 10 when results come out and form the government this time. That is quite visible on the ground and we can gauge the people’s mood.
Q. The LJP is contesting alone and there is a growing perception that it will help the RJD . In Raghopur, the LJP has fielded a Rajput candidate and it looks it will help you? Will there be any post-poll understanding with RJD and LJP?
LJP chief Chirag Paswan has said many times that he is with the BJP as part of the NDA and not with JD (U). He has asserted there will be no understanding with the RJD. The LJP chief has made the picture clear. I do not need to talk about it.
As for what will help, what will not, I never think about it. In the by-election after the Lok Sabha polls last year, the HAM(S) led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikassheel Insaan Party( VIP) had contested alone. Many felt it would damage us. But we benefited (RJD won two out of five assembly seats in bypolls in October). It will be assessed later whether the LJP contesting alone will help or damage somebody.
Q. The BJP-JD(U) is setting the poll narrative against RJD by labelling its 15 years rule as Jungle raj. There is also accusation of law and order deteriorating if the RJD comes to power?
This is all part of an attempt to create fear psychosis among people and divert attention of the people from the 15-year-rule of Nitish Kumar, who failed on all fronts, be it in generating jobs, bringing industries , checking migration or getting special category status. The so-called jungle raj narrative is propaganda.
We have already apologised to people for mistakes, shortcomings during our rule and now exhorting people to give us one chance to serve. The NCRB data shows the state witnessed a drastic rise in crime after 2018. It was the RJD that took a lead role in putting pressure on the state government in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse case.
Q. Will your government review the excise policy and prohibition enforced in the state from 2016, after coming to power?
My strong belief is that prohibition should be there. But there are anomalies in implementation of the prohibition. Due to the slackness of the state government, a black market to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore has emerged and illegal wealth earned from Bihar is going to different states.
This has happened because the implementation of the prohibition law is poor. We will surely look into this aspect. Besides, there is a ban on liquor but other addictive items are available. What about them. What steps have been taken to stop it. The chief minister was campaigning for countrywide prohibition but the BJP had opposed the prohibition law even in the state assembly.
Q. The RJD’s posters show Tejashwi. Your siblings, elder brother Tej Pratap and elder sister Misa Bharti and even your mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi are not visible in the campaign. The BJP has taken potshots as how you have sidelined everybody to showcase yourself?
This is all foolish talk. Isn’t RJD chief Lalu Prasad the party president? In the last election, there were big posters of CM Kumar only. Nobody has been removed or sidelined.
In elections, some are at the front and some are behind the curtains. Those who work at the front, they are visible. Everybody is playing their role. Of course, my mother Rabri Devi is diabetic and we do want to give her much exposure for health reasons. People are watching everything. They are not fools.