Would you support the BJP in any possible attempt to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya and implement a uniform civil code?
The BJP never said it would make a Ram temple. It said the matter is important to them and it would merely go by what Supreme Court decides. As for a uniform civil code, kisi ke kehne se kuch nahin hoga. The PM has given a focus area, and that is development… Not once has his speeches reeked of religion and communalism.
Having brought the NDA six seats, what kind of ministerial portfolio do you want?
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I am least bothered about a ministerial portfolio. My priority is that the promise with which we went to the people should be fulfilled. All ministries can be important. In VP Singh’s government (1989) I had labour, which no one wanted in those days. Later, Sitaram Kesri wanted labour. Ever since I became railway minister in 1996, everyone started demanding railways.
How do you view Nitish Kumar’s resignation?
It is just his nautanki. He wants to be a martyr by just cutting off his finger. He had no other option. It is but natural that his government will fall in a few months. There is a lot of anger inside his party. Now he is just trying to gain some sympathy.
Do you think the JD(U) breaking up with the BJP hurt it and helped you?
Breaking up with the BJP has nothing to do with it. Nitish Kumar had started losing people’s faith long back. He lost the Maharajganj poll, even though he was with the BJP then. Whatever has happened in the Lok Sabha polls will only get stronger in the state polls. Lalu and Nitish are finished in Bihar. If Nitish has lost the people’s confidence, Lalu’s party is headless.
Will you demand special status for Bihar?
Modiji has said he would consider this demand. So we of course will demand this.
What happened to identity politics and your credentials as a secular leader?
In this day and age, secularism has become a bag of hot air for politicians. All these votes the people have given to the NDA, are we to believe they are all communal people? Those who did identity politics and tried dividing the people on the basis of caste and religion paid the price for it. Look at Mulayam, Mayawati and Lalu.
Your party has the only Muslim MP in the NDA. Do you want any special place for him?
We did not think of his (Mehboob Ali Kaiser from Khagaria) religion while giving him the ticket.