As the NDA and Grand Alliance constituents engage in posturing before the Bihar Assembly polls, state Congress working president and the party’s prominent minority face, KAUKAB QUADRI, spoke to SANTOSH SINGH on the alliance with the RJD, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as the CM candidate, LJP keeping its options open, and the timing of the elections amid a surge in Covid cases. Excerpts:
RJD seems to dictate seat-sharing terms by suggesting it wants to contest over 150 of 243 seats. Will it have any impact on the alliance?
We have not engaged in seat-sharing talks yet. One thing is pretty clear that our alliance with RJD is a foregone conclusion. We are inseparable because the two parties can not only consolidate Muslim-Yadav votes of about 30 per cent but Congress can bring in additional votes from upper castes and other sections. Some Congress leaders may be trying to put pressure on the party because of personal reasons but the alliance is the need of the hour.
Will your party and Grand Alliance accept Tejashwi as the CM candidate as RJD has been insisting?
Our priority is to defeat NDA first. RJD as the biggest party in Grand Alliance has every right to project Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as its CM face but Grand Alliance leaders can discuss it in a post-poll situation. Tejashwi will be surely discussed as the possible choice but our main objective is to ask the NDA and Nitish Kumar what they have done in the last three years. Nitish owes answers over Covid mismanagement. Let him provide enough oxygen cylinders and ventilators before harping on good governance.
Is your party warming up to LJP? Do you see a possibility of an RJD-Congress-LJP alliance?
It is a pressure tactic of LJP to extract maximum number of seats to contest in the NDA. As long as Ram Vilas Paswan is part of the NDA government, we do not see any merit in what Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan say. Let them first dump NDA, we can surely consider the possibility of an alliance with them. But as of now, top leaders from either side have not discussed it. It is political posturing as of now.
Did Congress ever explore the idea of an alliance minus RJD by projecting someone like RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha?
It is wishful thinking. Congress and RJD have been a strong political force. Upendra Kushwaha has not proved his worth as leader. His party had to forfeit his security deposits on many seats in the last Lok Sabha polls…
Where do you see smaller parties such as Kushwaha’s RLSP, former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) fitting in the Grand Alliance?
All these parties have to be part of the Grand Alliance on the terms of the RJD and Congress. These parties have not proved themselves… they can surely fill some dots.
How do you respond to the NDA being keen on elections on time despite the rising number of Covid cases?
It is the domain of the Election Commission of India to take a final call… We will accept what EC decides. I see no problem even if polls are held in February-March. Dealing with Covid cases and people’s safety should be the top priority. Let the NDA government tell us why Bihar has so many migrant workers and what they have done so far to generate employment.