‘GA coming together due to shared perspectives, not intimidation’
“We are very certain that those who flout people’s mandate with impunity will be resoundingly defeated,” says Manoj Jha.Updated: May 03, 2019 15:13 IST
RJD Rajya Sabha MP and party’s national spokesman Manoj Jha has been a trusted lieutenant of Lalu Prasad and is on a campaign-spree in Bihar to garner support for the Grand Alliance (GA) candidates, along with Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav. A keen observer, he says Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s facial expression at the Darbhanga rally of PM Narendra Modi seemed to amply reflect the coercive compulsion within the NDA. Talking to Arun Kumar, Jha exudes optimism about GA’S prospects in Bihar and says that the BJP’S hateful overdrive was a manifestation of admission that it had lost the plot.
With four phases of polls over, how optimistic are you about Grand Alliance’s chances in Bihar?
We are very certain that those who flout people’s mandate with impunity will be resoundingly defeated. With each successive phase the debate around important issues confronting India became more rigorous and sharper questions are being asked of this government.
As a member of a responsible political party, I remain optimistic about building a shared future for all sections of Indian society.
What makes you feel confident at a time when BJP has been on an overdrive and NDA claims favourable arithmetic?
If you saw the enthusiasm that Nitish Kumar ji showed at a recent NDA rally in Darbhanga, you would get a more accurate estimate of the NDA arithmetic. BJP has shown its intent by making spurious allegations against political leaders, by using the fiscal instruments and institutions to wage a war against the opposition, by denying basic rights such as bail to popular leaders like Lalu Yadav ji.
Their renewed hateful overdrive, seen through
How do you see Narendra Modi’s assertion that for the first time there is pro-incumbency wave?
I think PM Narendra Modi may have begun to believe the yarn their own IT cell is spinning. He may wish to bulldoze the majority and make sure that there are no opponents, but it is just that-wishful thinking.
Anybody who is paying attention to social media in India today or has bothered to talk to the unemployed, daily wage earners, the middle-class salaried people, or the farmers would know that BJP, and PM Modi personally, have not been able to respond to the anti-incumbency sentiments.
The BJP has employed tactics like denying tickets to sitting MPS who happened to be senior leaders and dissented. It also put in efforts at intensifying their brand of hate-filled nationalism because they cannot afford to remind the electorate of their slogans around achhe din, kala dhan, beti bachao etc. They know that there is strong anti-incumbancy but are behaving like ostriches.
Will internal squabbles within GA and seat adjustment issues have an adverse impact?
GA parties are coming together due to shared perspectives and not by coercion or intimidation--so disagreements and debates are natural. Media, both elite and populist, have always derided these as ‘squabbles.’ I understand that in this general election some people are impatient with democratic disagreements between progressive, secular parties as ‘squabbles’ possibly because they have either been too traumatised or entirely conditioned by the political behaviour of the BJP and Sangh Parivar in the last 5 years. Such dismay and desperation can only be counterproductive.
Ultimately we have to trust that various sections of voters in India have a deep and nuanced understanding of their interests and of electoral politics. Political parties can only hope to represent these interests existing in national community. While consent can be manufactured, democracy has to be practiced. Practicing democracy is tough and we in the RJD are always ready to pay its high price.
What do you see striking this time in contrast to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?
Two things are most striking to me. First is that in contrast to 2014, these elections are taking place under the watch of a government that is not interested in even pretending to be non-partisan. They are flouting all the rules of the book and have instrumentalised all state institutions for their pursuit of power. Even the army has not been spared.
Second, the Indian electorate that is voting in 2019 is more informed and politically educated than ever before. It has debated the role of institutions and the performance record of political parties. It has debated the history of India and the contribution of the founders of the Indian republic. It understands better the values enshrined in the constitution of India.