Tejashwi Yadav interview: ‘We’ve realigned to uphold secularism and democracy’

Updated on Aug 12, 2022 12:26 PM IST

Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, who took oath on Wednesday and will soon be designated the deputy Chief Minister of Bihar in the new Mahagathbandhan government, has said that the RJD and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) have realigned to promote secularism and upholding democracy.

RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav. PREMIUM
RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.

Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, 32, who took oath on Wednesday and will soon be designated the deputy Chief Minister of Bihar in the new Mahagathbandhan government, has said that the Rashtriya Janata Dal and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) have realigned to promote secularism and upholding democracy. In an interview with Anirban Guha Roy on Thursday, Yadav said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to “wipe out” the Opposition, but parties will unite more strongly against it in 2024.

Edited excerpts:

What will be the priorities of the Grand Alliance (GA) government in which RJD is a senior partner? There was also a promise by you in 2020 assembly polls of offering 1 million jobs. Will it be implemented?

The priority of the GA government is to work for people and focus on education, health care, irrigation, and employment. Our party made these issues its main focus areas during the 2020 elections, and we are committed to upgrading education and health systems, focus on the farm sector for better productivity, and also create avenues for jobs. Yes, we’re working on a plan to create big job opportunities for the youth, and it will be implemented soon.

Now that JD(U) has realigned with the RJD and the rest of the Grand Alliance, the BJP has said that Bihar’s development will stall, and that the best performance on the development front came during the National Democratic Alliance rule.

This is all baseless. On the national front, the BJP-led NDA government has brought in galloping inflation, economic crisis, and low growth rate. Even on national security, they have failed. Look at how China is encroaching on our land by setting up villages on Indian territory.

In the context of Bihar, what was the performance of BJP ministers -- whether it is in the execution of smart cities or other infrastructure projects? They claimed that states like Bihar, being consumer states, will benefit after the implementation of GST. No , Bihar has not gained. The BJP continues to talk about launching bullet trains and many hyped projects but they have all failed to take off.

You and your party had asserted during the 2020 assembly polls and on many occasions in the past after the break-up in 2017 that there would be no tie up with JD(U) in future. How has the RJD then aligned with Nitish Kumar again?

The present political situation and circumstances have brought the RJD and the JD(U) together. The BJP national president JP Nadda recently said that all regional parties would be finished. That is an indication that the BJP is keen to wipe out the Opposition and crush democracy. We, RJD and JD(U), are all socialists and share the legacy of Ram Manohar Lohia and former chief minister Karpoori Thakur. We have the responsibility to uphold democracy and fight against the forces spreading hatred and communalism. Bihar is the land where democracy was born. And we have realigned on common issues like secularism, and working for the poor. The RJD is still committed to its core values of social justice and secularism.

Do you feel there will be a change in your working style from your stint as deputy CM for the first time from 2015-2017?

I can only say I have gained more experience and maturity in the last five years, and I will work hard for the all-round development of the state. I had become deputy CM in my first stint as MLA. Even in those 18 months, I worked relentlessly for the state’s development -- whether it was launching new road projects , increasing the CRS (calamity relief fund ) from 200 crore to 1,000 crore, and initiating the replacement of the super structure of the Gandhi Setu. There were many road projects launched in Saran and Vaishali. Now, when I have had a stint as leader of the Opposition and have steered my party during the elections and held various responsibilities, I’m more experienced and will strive to speed up the development momentum in the state.

Is CM Nitish Kumar going to be the Opposition’s prime ministerial candidate in the future? Will the regrouping be a formidable enough combination to take on the BJP in 2024 parliamentary polls?

I cannot comment on whether CM Nitish Kumar will be PM candidate or not. But, yes, he is one of the most experienced chief ministers in the country, and now he is also the leader of the Grand Alliance. Let some things wait for a while. Bachcha toh abhi janma hai ( the baby has just been born -- in context of JD(U) realigning with the RJD-led GA joining opposition camp). Of course, the chief minister has already given an important statement casting doubt on whether PM Modi would return to power in the 2024 parliamentary polls.

As far as Mahagatbanhan being a formidable force, I feel the vote share of the GA has increased and the Opposition forces will unite more strongly. The BJP will get a befitting reply from people and face defeat in the 2024 polls.

You have been vocal about Opposition leaders being allegedly harassed by federal investigating agencies. The BJP is attacking you on the corruption charges against you. Are you apprehensive of being targeted?

I am not scared of CBI, ED, and IT. Let CBI, ED come to my house and open their offices here, if they feel like it. They are most welcome. Cases against me were filed by the CBI though there was nothing in it. The cases relate to those years when I had not (even) grown a moustache. I have faced the CBI when I was deputy CM and used to fight with the Centre for getting more development projects. I have not done anything wrong. So why should I be scared?

When will the cabinet of the GA government be expanded?

It will be done soon with views taken from all constituents in the GA. The chief minister will take a call on it. We will give our list.

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