Nand Kishore Yadav, leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly, is preparing for Tuesday’s launch of the BJP’s poll campaign with a rally of booth level workers. In this interview, he discusses the ambiguity around the BJP’s CM candidate, Nitish Kumar’s development plank and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s possible utility for the BJP. Excerpts.
With the Janata Parivar merger almost certain now, how will the BJP take on these unified opponents with a social combination in their favour?
If we assess our assembly-wise position on the basis of the 2014 parliamentary elections, we are ahead in 173 of the 243 assembly seats. Now if we look at a combination of RJD, JD(U) and Congress votes, we are still ahead in 83 seats. Past experience shows that the votes of unified parties do not get transferred or combine as targeted. Most importantly, the JD(U) and the RJD were head to head; hence there will be two potential contenders after the merger and their bickering will help us.
Do you agree that the BJP lacks a prominent face like Nitish Kumar?
Most of Nitish Kumar’s outstanding achievements came during his NDA days, whether as Union railway minister or CM. People can compare the NDA’s seven-and-a-half years and Nitish without the BJP twice, and take a call.
Why hasn’t the BJP projected a CM candidate against Nitish?
It is true that the Bihar BJP has more than one CM nominee. It is a happy situation for a party. But the final call will be taken by the BJP parliamentary board.
Do you see yourself as a potential CM contender?
I have never asked the party for anything and am ready to take any responsibility the party gives me.
Where does Jitan Ram Manjhi fit into the BJP scheme of things?
He is welcome in the BJP. It is up to him to decide. He certainly has the potential to take five per cent Mushahar votes away from Nitish. It will suit us perfectly in a tight battle.
What if the Janta Parivar social combination attempts a backward/forward divide against the BJP?
Narendra Modi is the biggest EBC face. Times have changed. It will be a battle on the development plank and we will not let voters forget that Nitish Kumar is now with the regressive Lalu Prasad.