INTERVIEW

We cannot join hands with Nitish Kumar

Tejashwi Yadav/ Rashtriya Janata Dal leader

Tejashwi Yadav Tejashwi Yadav

How is the political situation in Bihar poised?

Nitish Kumarji is in bargaining mode. He has proclaimed himself as the face of the NDA in Bihar. This has made the BJP unhappy; NDA allies are also upset. The manner in which Nitishji has cheated the people’s mandate and how he treated Laluji will go against him.

His government has failed on various fronts. Prohibition has backfired. Around 1.3 lakh people are in jail.

Nitish Kumar enjoys the image of a good administrator.

He is not a good administrator. He is separated from the masses. No work takes place at the block level. He only keeps crying for special status for Bihar. Who are you asking—Donald Trump? Modiji will give it, right?

Will there be opposition unity in Bihar?

Why just Bihar? We will work for opposition unity at the national level. This was Laluji’s dream. We are happy to see [Bahujan Samaj Party president] Mayawatiji and [Samajwadi Party president] Akhileshji coming together. Laluji used to talk about a mahagathbandhan [grand alliance] in Uttar Pradesh.

Have you faced any difficulties in your political role?

Everyone has been supportive, in the family and in the party. Our allies are supportive. There are people in the NDA who compliment me. Earlier, people would say ‘How could he be made deputy chief minister? He is not well educated.’ But, my department was number one in terms of budget utilisation.

Nitish Kumar attended your brother’s wedding. Does that indicate a patch-up?

Papa put [L.K.] Advaniji in jail. But, he came for all of my sisters’ weddings. Yes, Nitishji attended the wedding. But prior to that, he never inquired about Papa’s health. If Nitishji insults the people’s mandate and we join hands with him, people will call us paltu (hypocrites).

So you will not ally with Nitish Kumar even if he reaches out?

People will not vote for us. They will call us opportunists. What will I say to the people? What about the scams that I have raised in the assembly? Nitishji is smart. He is bargaining with the BJP. That is why he came for the wedding.

Will the Congress be the pivot of opposition unity?

Obviously. The RJD will contest in two states. [Trinamool Congress chairperson] Mamataji is in West Bengal. Mayawatiji’s stronghold is Uttar Pradesh. So is the case with Akhileshji. We are all smaller parties compared with the Congress. The Congress has to carry everyone along.

Will you support Rahul Gandhi as the opposition’s prime minister candidate?

I will support anyone who will defeat the BJP.

Some regional leaders have raised doubts about Rahul Gandhi’s leadership capabilities?

Of course he has leadership capabilities. He is the president of the oldest political party in the country. He pulled off a remarkable performance in the Gujarat [assembly elections]. The party has done well under him in the byelections. He did well to keep the BJP away from power in Karnataka.

Soni Mishra