Q/Would Tejashwi Yadav be able to challenge Nitish Kumar and the image he has built over the last 15 years?
A/To measure the image of the Nitish Kumar government, you only have to look at the Muzaffarpur shelter home incident. What can be more shameful than orphan girls being exploited in a government-run institution? The Supreme Court had passed strictures against the Bihar government in this case.
If the Grand Alliance comes to power, we will bring out the harsh truths in the case. Nitish Kumar will even go to jail in several corruption cases. We don’t have to find out anything more to say about Nitish Kumar; we only have to pick from the charges that the BJP and the JD(U) had hurled at each other when Nitish Kumar was against Narendra Modi. The BJP had even ridiculed Nitish Kumar’s DNA.
Q/Is there an anti-incumbency factor in Bihar?
A/People saw the true colours of Nitish Kumar during the Covid-19 lockdown. People won’t forget how the police were sent to the borders of Bihar to beat up poor migrants who were returning on foot from other states. Nitish was hiding like a rat during the first four months [of the lockdown] on the pretext of taking precaution against the spread of the disease.
Now he has realised that people are turning against him. To show that he is still popular, he is running here and there, though the spread of Covid-19 is far more now. If the movement of trains could be stopped, the election also could have been postponed. Nobody is following Covid-19 guidelines at election rallies. Everyone, including the chief minister, is aiding and abetting breaking of the guidelines.
Q/Doesn’t the NDA have an upper hand in the campaign?
A/The fight is between the NDA’s money power and the Grand Alliance’s people power. Money power need not always win. The NDA is trying to flood Bihar with black money. They have inducted 10 helicopters into their campaign. But do you see in the NDA rallies the kind of enthusiasm and excitement that you see in Tejashwi’s rallies? The youth are thronging his rallies in thousands. They are excited about Tejashwi single-handedly taking on heavyweights including Central ministers and chief ministers. The youth want change in Bihar and they want Tejashwi as chief minister.
Q/Is unemployment the Grand Alliance’s poll plank?
A/The fact that lakhs of youth are being forced to migrate to other states for jobs is the biggest proof of lack of development. It was with a sense of purpose that Tejashwi made the promise of giving jobs to 10 lakh people if elected to power. Tejashwi aims at the all-round development of Bihar.
Q/Why did some of the allies leave the Grand Alliance?
A/New parties will jump at the offer of more seats. Shifting of allegiance need not always be due to ideological reasons.
Q/Several RJD MLAs have jumped ship and joined the JD(U). Is it not a setback?
A/MLAs could be purchased, but the voting public can’t be purchased. Nitish had left the RJD alliance and allied with the BJP, violating the mandate of the last assembly election. It has become a habit with the BJP to capture power through horse-trading after losing elections. Not only have they done it in Bihar, but also repeated it in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. It just happened that they failed in Rajasthan. The country is intensely watching the Bihar assembly elections with hope. If Bihar could stop Narendra Modi’s (juggernaut) in the last assembly election, it will do it again.