Fernandes invited me: Nagmani
50-year old Nagmani, a Lok Sabha member from Chatra in Jharkhand, is the son of an aggressive backward caste leader Jagdeo Prasad. An experienced administrator and legislator having been a member of Bihar Assembly and the Rajya Sabha, Nagmani, though elected on RJD ticket, later parted ways with Laloo Prasad Yadav to form RJD (Democratic) along with Dr Ranjan Prasad Yadav and Md Anwarul Haque.
Subsequently he also formed his own outfit Shoshit Kranti Dal. He was made the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in the Vajpayee Council of Ministers last year. On January 5, 2004 he merged his Shoshit Kranti Dal with BJP and joined the party. An excerpt from the exclusive interview.
Q. You parted ways with Laloo Prasad Yadav to provide an alternative to the RJD government in Bihar. You could not do that and instead aligned with the BJP to become a minister and consequently joined the party. Your comment?
A. It is true that I parted ways with the RJD on the issue of the autocratic style of functioning of Laloo Prasad Yadav. He had started promoting his kith and kin into politics. When I left the RJD, I had the support of 29 MLAs and 15 ministers. They had extended their support to me in writing.
The problem was with our leader Dr. Ranjan Prasad Yadav. He never did anything to unite the forces opposed to the RJD. Perhaps he was afraid of Laloo.
Q. That means it was a bad decision to project Ranjan Yadav as a leader?
A. Yes, it was. He proved to be a weak leader against Laloo Prasad Yadav. Infact, at that time the entire anti-Laloo forces in Bihar had hoped that Ranjan Yadav alone could provide an alternative to the RJD regime in Bihar.
Q. Why did you join the BJP and not any other party?
A. I had the invitation from other party as well. George Fernandes had invited me to join the Samata in order to check the influence of Union Railway minister Nitish Kumar. But I din't join the Samata because there was bound to be a fight with Nitish on every issue. I am not the one who could have taken Nitish dictatorship silently.
Q. Your father Jagdeo Prasad was a pioneer of backward-forward policy in Bihar. But now you have joined a party, which is considered a pro upper caste.
A. During the time of my father, exploitation of backwards by forwards was a reality, but this reality does not exist today. Nowhere in India there is a backward-forward struggle.
Q. How much seats do you expect the BJP to win in Jharkhand?
A. All the seats.
Q. Ten years down the line, where do you see yourselves?
A. See, I am not a liability on the BJP. The party is going to gain from my entry. All the northern states including Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have 9-10% of Kushwaha population. I am the national leader of Kushwaha. I have addressed rallies in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Both Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti were impressed by the response, which I received in those rallies.
Q. The Chatra parliamentary constituency in Jharkhand, from where you contest Lok Sabha elections, has around 1.25 lakh Muslim population. Don't you think that your decision to join the BJP will alienate this section of the population?
A. No, the Muslims of my constituency are very much with me. Before joining the BJP I had taken their consent. I am the first person to demand the implementation of the Gopal Singh commission, which was set up in 1980 and gave its report in 1983, on various measures, which needs to be taken for the upliftment of Muslims.