Ram Kripal Yadav, once close to Lalu Prasad and now a BJP Union minister, was targeted of an attack from Lalu when he declared the elections a battle between the forward and backward castes. The Pataliputra MP, who beat Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti to the Lok Sabha, discusses his former mentor’s politics in this interview.
Why do you think Lalu chose to attack you among the BJP’s Yadav leaders when he described the elections as a backward-versus-forward fight?
Laluji has been indulging in socially divisive politics for years… Laluji should bear in mind that it is Bihar of 2015, not of the 1990s; his brand of divisive politics will not work. He has chosen to attack me because I defeated his daughter in the Lok Sabha pols. He is attacking me because Narendra Modiji made me a minister and Laluji had only used me as a lackey.
How do you respond to his accusation of you amassing wealth?
What will happen if I open my mouth against Lalu? It is better he gave an affidavit on his property and I gave one on mine. Laluji himself used to say he came to Patna with a dish and a glass. He should tell his story about moving around in planes and his lavish life.
Is the BJP on the back foot after Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on reservation? Your colleague Giriraj Singh had to assure no upper-caste leader will become CM.
The BJP has given fair representation to all social groups. Yadavs have 22 tickets, EBCs and Dalits’ numbers too have gone up. We are not at all on the back foot. Everyone knows PM Narendra Modi’s background as a tea-seller. One can see a number of backward-caste leaders in the state BJP, from Sushil Modi to Nand Kishore Yadav to Prem Kumar. How often has one seen Lalu exhorting Yaduvashis? He is doing that because a large chunk of them are disenchanted with him. Mandal does not mean empowerment only of Laluji’s family. The days are gone when Yadavs used to ride buffaloes; today they want to ride scooters, cars, even planes. Only the BJP is talking of development.
But Narendra Modi too has been addressing Yaduvanshis, right from his 2013 rally in Patna. Isn’t caste a subtext with the BJP’s plank of development?
What Modiji meant by his invocation of Yaduvanshis was the denial of justice and neglect of Yadavs under Lalu and Nitish’s rule. Modiji brought in the development theme to expose Lalu and Nitish. While Laluji played the caste card and followed a “use and throw” policy for Yadav leaders, the Yadavs got a tag of “being antisocial” during Nitish’s regime. Just check the figures for murders of Yadavs and the number of speedy trials against Yadavs. The BJP is talking of social cohesion. Development alone is our theme… As for Mandal, we have Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi, Don’t they represent Mandal? And just for the record, the Mandal Commission report has not been implemented in Bihar. When Mandal-1 isn’t implemented, Laluji has no moral right to talk about Mandal-2.
Will you campaign in Raghopur and Mahua, from where Lalu’s sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap are contesting?
I am happy to find my name among the 40 star campaigners of the party. If the party tells me to, I would love to campaign in Mahua and Raghopur and tell people how, to Lalu , Mandal means only his sons and daughters. There are leaders of high integrity such as Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Jagdanand Singh in the RJD. Why does Laluji not promote them?
Isn’t the BJP playing upper-caste politics by giving them 85 tickets out of 243?
Every party has its social base. My party has given tickets not just to to upper castes but also to other sections. There is not a bit of truth about polarisation on caste lines. Rather, EBCs and Dalits cannot fall into Lalu’s trap of backward and forward politics. Where is the development face of Nitish when Laluji is blatantly talking caste? The Congress, the RJD and the JD(U), which have ruled Bihar so far, should answer why 80 per cent children are anaemic and 58 per cent of them suffer from malnutrition. People have tried them and this is the time for the BJP. I want to ask Nitish why he has handed over desi liquor pouches to children, who should have been given milk and books.
Do you give yourself a chance of becoming the Bihar CM?
I am just a simple party worker and am happy with the role the party has given me. As the party has said many times, the parliamentary board will take this up at the right time.