Lok Sabha elections 2019: ‘We all miss Laluji...there is no sibling rivalry in our family’:Tejashwi Yadav
Tejashwi Yadav, 29, has already held over 90 election meetings in Bihar and Jharkhand, sharpening his attack on the ruling Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance.Updated: Apr 26, 2019 08:09 IST
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav is facing his first big electoral test without his father, Lalu Prasad, who is in jail in connection with a graft case. Yadav, 29, has already held over 90 election meetings in Bihar and Jharkhand, sharpening his attack on the ruling Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance. Yadav spoke to Hindustan Times, touching upon issues such as the BJP’s narrative of nationalism, a perceived strain in Bihar’s grand alliance and in the Yadav family in the wake of the discordant note struck by his elder brother, Tej Pratap. Edited excerpts:
How is the campaign of the party and the Grand Alliance (GA) progressing in Bihar?
The GA is getting a positive response from the people, who are disillusioned with the BJP government at the Centre and the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. There are only two Cs in Bihar: corruption and crime. The results will be unexpected this time. Just wait. Even the National Democratic Alliance knows it.
Do you feel the GA will improve its tally?
The last election was different. The mood of the people was against the UPA [Congress-led United Progressive Alliance] government at the Centre. This is an election where we are fighting to safeguard the reservation system, the ideology of social justice and basic tenets of India’s democracy.
This election is also about the failed promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who assured of creating 20 million jobs, and promised to deposit ₹15 lakh in each Indian’s bank account and fast-track India’s growth.
For Bihar, he promised a special package. Has it come? In every way, Bihar has been neglected and cheated.
As for the seats GA will win, I reiterate that the results will be quite surprising this time.
There is a buzz that all is not well between the RJD and the Congress, the reason you have chosen to skip rallies by Congress president Rahul Gandhi in recent days. Also, Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed is contesting as an independent from Madhubani.
There is no rift and all is fine in the GA. We are working as a team... with all allies having a common objective to defeat the BJP-led NDA.
I have shared stage with Rahul Gandhi in this election season and would again be with him in his upcoming rally at Samastipur.
We have our own election schedule and we are following it.
As for Shakeel Ahmed, nobody can stop a person from contesting as an independent.
How do you see your elder brother Tej Pratap’s move to field nominees against the party’s official candidates? Isn’t it a sign of growing sibling rivalry? Will action be taken against Tej Pratap?
There is no sibling rivalry in our family. I had visited my brother on his birthday and he always treats me with love and affection. If someone feels a candidate is better than the party’s nominee, it’s his/her own perception. The results will speak. Taking action against Tej Pratap is an internal matter of the party.
Are you missing Laluji? Do you feel the campaign has been affected because of his absence?
We all miss Laluji as he is our leader. People are missing him. Of course the campaign is going fine. But the real issue is that the people of Bihar are angered because Laluji is not being treated well at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi. I met him 10 days back, and he was not well. The doctor told me that some tests are to be done, but now I hear that he has not been taken for the tests. The Jharkhand government is putting several restrictions on him
Will the RJD combine with regional forces for a larger role at the Centre in case of split verdict?
The regional players will do well. The Samajwadi Party(SP)- Bahujan Samaj Party ( BSP) coalition is expected to perform well in Uttar Pradesh. And it is the Congress’ responsibility to reach out to allies for the formation of a new government.
As for talks of a federal front playing a role, I can say that we are in UPA. Let us wait for May 23rd when the verdict comes.
What do you feel about the BJP’s poll narrative of nationalism? Do you see it as a factor that will decide the outcome?
The entire nationalism-jingoism is a non-issue and a diversionary tactic by the BJP and PM Modi, who is portraying that the army works when he is the Prime Minister and the army would not be working if he is not around.
This is a sheer attempt to politicise the armed forces. Our army has a glorious history.
In my view, doubling the income of farmers, eradicating unemployment and addressing socioeconomic issues is nationalism.
Is Tejashwi Yadav likely to take a larger role in national politics in the coming days?
I will do whatever my party asks me to do.