'Not the right time for Rahul Gandhi's yatra': JD(U) chief spokesperson

Tyagi says there should have been an INDIA bloc yatra instead of a Congress one

28-Tyagi K.C. Tyagi | J. Suresh

Interview/ K.C. Tyagi, special adviser and chief spokesperson, JD(U)

Q/ The Congress has initiated seat-sharing discussions with allies. How do you look at that?

A/ It is a positive step, though the discussions have begun late. We are lagging behind the BJP. They are conducting booth meetings and giving out Ram temple prasad. We have not held a single joint public meeting.

Q/ The INDIA alliance was formed on the premise that the opposition would put up one candidate per seat in around 400 seats. Can it be achieved?

A/ That is our main agenda and we are working in that direction. We will have alliances in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Q/ The alliance looks like a divided house, given the bitter exchanges on seat sharing.

A/ It is sad that [Congress leader] Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is talking about the need to impose president’s rule in West Bengal when the opposition has been taking up the misuse of Article 356. At a time when alliances are being stitched, he should not have said such a thing. How can he forget that [West Bengal Chief Minister] Mamata Banerjee is our ally?

Also, seat sharing talks are not easy. Even within a party, there are differences when deciding on candidates. And here, we have to discuss seats with other parties.

Q/ The sentiment of compromise is missing. Even the JD(U) is firm on contesting all 16 seats it holds in Bihar.

A/ The JD(U) is not being rigid. It was already decided by the INDIA parties that the seats that a party already holds would not come up for discussion. Otherwise, we will end up in a chaotic situation.

Q/ Mamata Banerjee had in the last INDIA meeting suggested that Mallikarjun Kharge should be the prime minister face of the alliance.

A/ I admire Mallikarjun Kharge for rejecting the idea immediately. It is quite surprising that Mamata Banerjee made the suggestion when it had been decided in the INDIA meeting in Mumbai that the alliance will not have a prime minister face.

Q/ Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is believed to be upset at his perceived sidelining in the alliance.

A/ The manipulations that have taken place have definitely hurt us. Nitish Kumar ji has on several occasions said that he is not interested in becoming the prime minister candidate. We cannot stop workers from saying that he should be prime minister. This happens in other parties, too.

Q/ Is there a plan to make Nitish Kumar the convener of the alliance?

A/ Nitish Kumar is the founder of the alliance. He is in fact the founder-convener of the alliance; he convened the first INDIA meeting in Patna. He achieved an impossible task by getting so many leaders together. So, the post of convener is not such a big thing for us. It should have happened long ago. Now, what is left to convene? The Election Commission will convene the election.

Q/ How do you view the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra?

A/ Now was not the right time to take out a yatra. Elections will be announced in March, and the yatra will go on till March. We should have had an INDIA alliance yatra and not a Congress yatra. Also, he is the tallest leader in the Congress. He should have been here to coordinate seat-sharing discussions and joint programmes.

Q/ The yatra will pass through Bihar.

A/ If we are invited and if it does not clash with any programme of our party, we will join the yatra. We are not against it.