'This U-turn has hurt Nitish’s credibility': Rajya Sabha MP Javed Ali Khan

Nitish will end up as the biggest loser, says the member of INDIA coordination panel


Interview/ Javed Ali Khan, Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP and member of INDIA coordination committee

Q/ There is a perception that the INDIA alliance is dragging its feet over seat sharing.

A/ Has the NDA finalised its seat sharing? There are no reports about NDA constituents having finalised their seat sharing arrangement. It is not right to say that the INDIA parties are delaying seat sharing. Talks are on and soon a clear picture will emerge. The Samajwadi Party has released its first list of candidates, and seat adjustment with allies is on course.

Q/ Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav declared that 11 seats are being kept aside for the Congress. But the Congress says the talks are still on.

A/ If you look at the tweet of Akhilesh Yadav, it does not say that the figure of 11 seats is full and final. If the Congress is able to present a winning candidate for any more seats, that can be discussed.

Q/ What is the impact of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s exit from the alliance, considering he was its chief architect?

A/ It is true that Nitish Kumar was among the leaders who put together the alliance. The manner in which he has done this U-turn has hurt his credibility. He will end up as the biggest loser. INDIA alliance is intact and strong. The BJP faces the INDIA challenge not just in Bihar but in other states, too. If the BJP was so confident of winning Bihar, why did it get Nitish Kumar on board after having declared that all doors are closed for him? So INDIA is a challenge for the BJP, and it is not limited to Bihar. And, in Bihar, the INDIA alliance led by the RJD will give the BJP a tough fight.

Q/ Will this hit the social justice plank of the INDIA alliance?

A/ All INDIA partners are committed to social justice. The Congress, which had different views on caste census in the past, is now at the forefront of demanding a nationwide caste census. Nitish Kumar and the NDA have a lot of answering to do about where they stand on the issue of caste census. Nitish Kumar has joined hands with the BJP, which is opposed to caste census.

Q/ How will your alliance counter the BJP’s narrative on Ram Temple?

A/ If the Ram Temple issue was so potent, why did the BJP eat its own words and bring back Nitish Kumar into the NDA fold? This shows that the BJP realises that the inauguration of the Ram Temple cannot be used by them as an election issue beyond a point.

Q/ Will the SP take part in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra?

A/ It is a programme of the Congress party. It would have been better if a joint programme of all INDIA parties were planned. However, it is a good yatra and we wish it well. As far as joining the yatra is concerned, there is still some time before it enters Uttar Pradesh, and a decision will be taken as regards our leaders taking part in it.