Senior RJD leader and former minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui has emerged the most prominent Muslim face of the maha gathbandhan in Bihar. A veteran of the JP movement who won his first election in 1977, is a close aide of Lalu Prasad. Excerpts from an interview in Ali Nagar, from where he has won two consecutive elections on an RJD ticket.
On beef controversy
We are saying, why do you leave it after making it (cow slaughter) an issue? You (BJP) are a national party and you have a government that rules the country, why don’t you ban cow slaughter? Why don’t you come up with a central act? Once you ban it across the country, take action against those who violate the law. Why don’t they do so? There are big businesses dealing with beef that are linked to the BJP. They are only interested in communalising the issue.
On Bihar elections
This election is different from the previous one. It is happening on one particular issue. The way Narendra Modi’s government has been functioning has saddened the minorities, not just one community but minorities in general. They got 29 per cent of the vote in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls but still won a majority of the seats. In democratic terms, there were more votes against them. The parties that are against the BJP, they were playing their dafli or bansuri separately… We got 20.1 per cent, JD(U) got 15.6 per cent, Congress got 8.6 per cent. If you add this vote, then we got over 44 per cent… Whatever they have done in the last one-and-a-half years, because of that work, the peace-loving people, secular people and those who have faith in the Constitution, those people are saddened.
On PM and BJP
Narendra Modi is the prime minister of the country but his actions suggest he is PM for Gujarat. Because of his actions and his party’s actions, it doesn’t look like he is PM for all. Once an election ends and a party is voted to power, the winner doesn’t abuse the voter or the opposition. But BJP leaders’ and their PM’s behaviour is unconstitutional, it is against the federal structure and it is against the maryada of the constitutional post he occupies. I will give examples. One of his MPs says those who voted for the BJP are Ramzada and those who didn’t are haraamzada – this was public. One of their MPs said during the Haryana elections that in Bihar, Sushil Modi is my friend and you must elect the BJP and we will bring girls from Bihar to get married in Haryana. This statement too was made in public. Third, they raised an issue of love jihad. And the fourth issue, which is the most objectionable coming from a person who is the top executive of the country constitutionally, is saying that the DNA of a chief minister is bad… I have seen many great prime ministers. I got an opportunity to see Atal Bihari Vajpayee, V P Singh, Chandrashekhar very closely. The BJP of earlier was different. Although I didn’t agree with their ideology, their top leaders had maryada. There is neither the culture nor the leadership of the previous BJP in today’s BJP. The current BJP is Narendra Modi and Company Private Ltd. The prime minister is Narendra Modi and national president is a Gujarati while those who laid the foundations of their party with their blood and sweat, all those people have been isolated. They are creating a new team to create an organisation that is in their pocket. Where is the BJP’s top leadership — L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie? We see this at th state level as well.
On Dadri and the killing of Dalit children
We think there is a huge difference in their talk and action. The BJP is a party which has dual culture, two language, dohra acharan (dual behavior), dual membership and arth ka anarth, ek arth ka punarvaikhia karnay wali party hai (it is a party that misrepresents meanings). They say something and once they are caught, they immediately say that it isn’t their party view.
On Lalu’s comments
He (Modi) called him (Lalu) Shaitaan. Laluji, too, should not have said many of the things he said but currently he doesn’t have a constitutional post anywhere.
On taunts about ‘jungle raj’
They (BJP) are acting unconstitutionally. During the Delhi elections, they went to every ward and called (Arvind) Kejriwal a Naxalite. The people there gave their response. They describe our time in government as “jungle raj”. They don’t use it in terms of governance… they cleverly say it to indicate we are people of the jungle. They would disparagingly describe our leader Karpoori Thakur, whose honesty was known to every one, as “Karpooria”. They would denigrate Jagjivan Ram calling him “Jaggu”. A lot of work was done during they time they call jungle raj… A perception was created in Delhi and Maharashtra about Bihar. Why doesn’t anyone take crime records from 1990 onwards and compare. If there was a theft during our time, that would become first-page news. Before Lalu, Bihar used to be communally sensitive and there was a lot of riots. Lalu checked it strongly and it became jungle raj. Lalu gave the deprived poor their due in governance. Lalu gave a voice to those who were voiceless and it became jungle raj.
On Asaduddin Owaisi’s entry
If Owaisi were really concerned about Seemanchal, he should have taken up those issues a few years ahead of the polls. He has a democratic right to set up a party and contest the polls. I don’t know what the truth is but I will tell you what the people are saying. That Modiji is a factor in his coming here. The people of Bihar are poor but politically they are much more astute than in any other state. They understand why Owaisi has come, through whom he has come, and what the objective of his arrival is. In this case, once the results are out, everybody will know there is a huge difference between Maharashtra and Bihar.
On JP and BJP
This item is sellable at this time. You will understand if I put it like this. In 1977, the BJP employed every possible trick to bring down the government of Karpoori Thakur. In a town like Jamshedpur, they organised a communal riot. This is not I who am saying this. It came out in the report of a commission that probed it. Till yesterday they would consider Karpoori Thakur their enemy. Now ask them why they commemorate his anniversary. JP was anti-communalism and a social reformer. Now they are trying to appropriate JP. JP had given a programme — it wouldn’t be correct for me to elaborate because I am a Muslim — why did they oppose that programme? All those people from the Jana Sangh and the RSS who were jailed were released after they sought forgiveness.
On maha gathbandhan and NDA
Today our country is divided along two ideologies — of the BJP and of our gathbandhan. According to the BJP ideology, they alone have inherited this country and it doesn’t belong to anyone else. Our ideology is that this country isn’t the inheritance of any particular group but everybody. The BJP believes that only those they call nationalists are nationalists and those they call anti-national are anti-national.
The BJP’s founders and their stalwarts have no history of fighting, going to jail or becoming martyrs in the freedom struggle. This is recorded history. They (BJP) are consistently crying that the integrity and social unity of the country is divided. This is the only way they come to power. Our country is a great country and no matter what any political party does, this country will stay multi-religious and multi-cultural.