There is no question of any realignment with Nitish Kumar: TejashwiUpdated: Oct 22, 2020, 23:49 IST
After wrapping up a day of 12 back-to-back election meetings, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) chief ministerial candidate Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav, 31, spoke to Anirban Guha Roy about the crowds thronging his rallies, his inexperience in governance, the RJD’s Muslim-Yadav constituency, the possibility of a post-poll alliance with CM Nitish Kumar, prohibition, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) factor, and charges that he has sidelined other members of his family, among other issues. Edited excerpts:
Your meetings are getting large crowds. Will this translate into votes?
People have got fed up with the Nitish Kumar government’s inefficiency, and the huge turnout at my meetings is a reflection of people’s anger against the government. I’m confident people are going to vote for change as they see hope in us to give the state new energy for all-round development, jobs to the youth, and upliftment of the poor.
Nitish Kumar is calling you inexperienced and has 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 NDA campaign choppers flying in the air to campaign against 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 the youth by filling 4.5 lakh existing vacancies and also 5.5 lakh new jobs to improve the manpower required in various departments as per the national average.
As far as the money for the jobs is concerned, fiscal prudence will help in mobilising funds. Only 60% of the state budget allocation is spent, and rest 40% is unspent. It amounts to Rs 80,000 crore of our state budget of Rs 2 lakh crore.
And if the CM is saying there are no funds, he should be held accountable for not doing good fiscal management in all these years.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the RJD did not get a single seat. Do you believe the traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank will work since the Yadav vote shifted to NDA last time?
It’s 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 last 2019 elections, 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 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.
Is there a possibility of your party RJD-led Grand Alliance realigning with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) in a post-poll arrangement in case there is a hung assembly?
Obviously not . These are all assumptions -- if A happens, then what will happens; if B happens, what will happen. Your question is what if Nitish Kumar is leaving the BJP? The question of taking him back arises if he leaves the BJP, isn’t it? So, has he left the BJP? No, he is with the BJP.
Second, if there is a hung assembly , it will be seen as a mandate against the CM 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 as people will give a decisive mandate to us. We will come to power with a comfortable majority on November 10, when results come out, and form the government. That is quite visible on the ground, and we can gauge the people’s mood.
The LJP is contesting alone, and there is a perception that it will help the RJD . Will there be any post-poll understanding with RJD and LJP?
LJP chief Chirag Paswan has said many a time that he is with the BJP as part of the NDA, and not with the JD(U). He has asserted there will 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 the Vikassheel Insaan Party( VIP) 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 on whether the LJP contesting alone with help somebody or damage somebody.
The BJP-JD(U) is setting the poll narrative against the 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 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.
We have already apologised to people for any mistakes and shortcomings during our rule, and are now exhorting people to give us one chance to serve. The NCRB data shows the state witnessed 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.
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 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 ban on liquor but other addictive items are available. What about them? What have they done to check it? The chief minister was campaigning for countrywide prohibition, but the BJP had opposed the prohibition law even in the state assembly.
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 much in the campaign. The BJP has taken potshots as to 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 Nitish 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 don’t want to give her much exposure for health reasons. People are watching everything. They are not fools.