Sonia Gandhi is lowest, then Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, and their leader is Lalu Prasad: BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav

Bhupender Yadav, BJP general secretary in charge of Bihar, discusses the party’s parivartan rallies and the PM Modi’s promises, and rates the opposition in this interview.

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Has the government’s decision to announce an OROP (one-rank, one-pension) package brought any political advantage to you? Nitish Kumar has been alleging that the PM has failed to deliver on his promises.

Whatever promises Modiji had made so far, he has implemented them with full honesty. OROP has been a demand of soldiers for 40 years and the Congress kept it pending. This announcement has resolved all pending issues. It shows that whatever issues Modiji had taken up during the elections have been fulfilled. Those making the allegation have no basis. The one who made the allegation has joined hands with those who were responsible for jungle raj in Bihar; he aligned with these corrupt people after preaching graft-free governance. And after promising he would develop the state rising above caste politics, he is now spewing the the venom of casteism. So his statements have lost credibility.

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Will Mulayam Singh Yadav’s exit from the grand alliance help the BJP?
This has confirmed our view that Nitish does not hesitate to betray anyone for petty gains. First, he threw out George Fernandes. He came to power promising people of Bihar he would provide good governance with consistency and continuity, but without any reason he ditched us. He made Jitan Ram Manjhi CM saying he wanted to do justice to Mahadalits, then he ditched Manjhi too. When he felt he was on his own, he went to Mulayam’s house and accepted him as leader. But at the time of announcing seat shares, he did not even inform the SP leader.

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There have been reports about the BJP threatening the SP with CBI cases against Mulayam…
It’s completely wrong. What everyone can see is the way Nitish Kumar has dealt with the SP.

You have just completed the first phase of your parivartan yatras. What will the focus of the second phase be?
In the first phase, which started on July 16 with our national president (Amit Shah) flagging off 243 vehicles, we held more than 5o,000 nukkad sabhas that more than 67 lakh attended. Parivartan yatras took place in all four zones and Modiji’s rallies in Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Saharsa, Bhagalpur have set the agenda as development. By announcing the package, Modi has given shape to the plans for Bihar. As a result, Nitish was forced to announce a so-called package. The focus of the second phase will be development.

But caste politics is still playing out; how will the BJP counter it?
Yes, it is there. Social justice is always part of the political agenda in Bihar. But you cannot achieve it without economical and political justice. The economic programmes of the NDA such as Jan Dhan Yojana , Bhima and Mudra Bank are part of a larger scheme for social justice. Those self-proclaimed champions of social justice in Bihar were not ready to give their report card on social justice. Why were many promises, like that for jobs, not fulfilled in Bihar? Had teachers been appointed, would at least 10 per cent of the children of the backward classes not have been educated? Not even the Bhikhari Thakur villages have roads. Lalu Prasad used to talk about Mandal raj. Even the village of BP Mandal did not get power supply under Lalu. When Lalu says he wants to bring Mandal Raj 2, people ask him, where is the account of Mandal Raj 1?

Where do you see the BJP holding the advantage?
The BJP has succeeded in taking all sections of the society along. When the yatras began, we had 12 leaders representing all sections. By conducting four rallies, we have covered the state geographically in the first phase. Compared to that, Nitish Kumar has not held a single rally of the JD(U) in three months. Whatever rallies he has had, they were organised by the RJD. Nitish was just a guest artist in Lalu’s rallies. Laluji has shown he is the real leader. In the [arrangement], Sonia Gandhi is at the lowest, then Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav, and their leader is Lalu.

So Lalu is the real rival?
Not even Laluji. Because Yadavs feel he has done nothing for them.

How many rallies of Modi are you planning in the second phase?
We will have rallies to cover all areas. The Prime Minister will hold rallies in all zones, which will be finalised later.

In the seat sharing process with your allies, some are upset, it seems. Jitan Ram Manjhi has supposedly sent a party leader to Lalu.
I spoke to Mahachandra Prasad Singh and he said he hasn’t met Laluji. Our allies are cooperative and seat sharing is in process.