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Nitish Kumar may be ‘strong candidate’ for PM: Tejashwi Yadav

Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav said that the coming together of the Mahagathbandhan with the JD(U), RJD, the Congress and other parties "signals that most of the Opposition parties recognise the larger challenge before the country – the hegemony of the BJP."

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav during their swearing-in ceremony the at Raj Bhavan in Patna. (PTI)

Following a political churn in Bihar, which saw Nitish Kumar breaking JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP and returning to the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav on Monday stated that he could be a “strong candidate” for the Prime Minister’s post in the 2024 elections.

“I cannot claim to speak on behalf of the entire Opposition, however, if considered, respected Nitish ji definitely might be a strong candidate. He (Kumar) has more than 37 years of vast parliamentary and administrative experience and enjoys immense goodwill on the ground as well as among his peers,” Yadav stated in an interview with news agency PTI. For the last 50 years, he has been a social and political activist, having participated in JP and reservation movements, Yadav said.

“He (Kumar) has more than 37 years of vast parliamentary and administrative experience and enjoys immense goodwill on the ground as well as among his peers,” the RJD leader said.

However, Kumar had earlier stated that he has no aspirations of becoming the Opposition’s prime ministerial face. “I say this with folded hands, I have no such thoughts…My work is to work for everyone,” he told news agency ANI. “I will make an effort to see that all the Opposition parties work together. If they do, it will be good.”

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Yadav added that the coming together of the Mahagathbandhan with the JD(U), RJD, the Congress and other parties “augurs well for opposition unity”. “It signals that most of the Opposition parties recognise the larger challenge before the country – the hegemony of the BJP, where on the back of money, media, and (administrative) machinery power, they are determined to stamp out all diversity from the Indian society as well as from the political spectrum,” the RJD leader said.

Speaking about RJD joining forces with the JD(U), despite its earlier alliance with the BJP, Yadav said, “We have emerged from the same churn of socialist movements and broadly share the same values. Sometimes there have been issues but none that are irreconcilable.”

“It signals that most of the Opposition parties recognise the larger challenge before the country – the hegemony of the BJP, where on the back of money, media, and (administrative) machinery power, they are determined to stamp out all diversity from the Indian society as well as from the political spectrum,” he alleged.

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Yadav also said that regional parties and other progressive political groups have to look beyond their narrow gains and losses and save the republic, asserting that it will be very difficult to rebuild if “we don’t stop the destruction in its tracks now”.

Talking about BJP’s claim that “jungle raj” will return to Bihar with the Mahagathbandan back in power, Yadav said that this was a case of “crying wolf”. “It’s a tired discourse. Please mark my words – people understand and see through these tactics to divert attention and mislead. One, this is the age of social media and friends in mainstream media are not the only ones who control the discourse,” he said.

It is also a question of regional representation and social justice and development issues at the level of states, Yadav said.

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“For all their talk of cooperative federalism, the BJP’s attempt has been to consistently ignore regional disparities. Bihar needs special attention – nobody can deny it. But have we got anything from the Centre? Not quite,” he said.

Asked about the several adverse comments he had made about Kumar when the JD(U) leader was in alliance with the BJP, Yadav said if one looks at the similarities and differences between them from a historical, national, contemporary and regional perspective, one will find a meeting of minds and objectives.

“We have emerged from the same churn of socialist movements and broadly share the same values. Sometimes there have been issues but none that are irreconcilable,” he said.

“Our comments against the previous government were made in the capacity of a responsive opposition. All the interventions made by me and my party colleagues were to make sure the government heard the people’s concerns and voices,” he asserted.

Highlighting about the effects of mainstream media in the political spectrum of the country, the RJD leader said, “The ball is in the court of the mainstream media also – instead of doing ‘he said, she said’ – they should do their own checks. If the BJP says it is going to rain, friends in the mainstream media would do well to look outside the window and check for themselves if it would rain, instead of donning their raincoats and umbrellas and asking us if we think it’s going to rain,” Yadav said.

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Asked about BJP leader Sushil Modi’s allegations against the new Mahagathbandhan government and calling him a de facto CM, Yadav said everyone is free to say what they want but it doesn’t mean that “we have to take such things seriously”.

“Respected Nitish ji is the Chief Minister and I’ll work with him to the best of my capacity,” he said.

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On his promise of 10 lakh jobs and the talk around it, Yadav said, “We have started in earnest, firstly, by deciding to fill up existing vacancies on a priority basis. Thereafter, we will have a programme that will focus on incentivising job creation in various sectors where Bihar has an advantage.” “While we get on with our work, I’ll appeal to the Union government again to give Bihar special consideration – the state has waited far too long. I want to remind respected PM Modi of the promises he made to the people of Bihar before both the general elections and the assembly elections,” he said.

Kumar took oath as chief minister along with Yadav, who has been designated deputy CM, earlier this month after the JD(U) snapped ties with the BJP and joined hands with the RJD, the Congress and some other parties to form the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government.

— with inputs from PTI

First published on: 21-08-2022 at 02:00:34 pm
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