Tejaswi Yadav interview: ‘BJP is anti-development, everyone knows it’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/tejaswi-yadav-interview-bjp-is-anti-development-everyone-knows-it/

Tejaswi Yadav interview: ‘BJP is anti-development, everyone knows it’

Lalu Prasad's youngest son Tejaswi speaks to Sheela Bhatt about 'jungle raj', his father's 'involvement' in the fodder scam, and how he plans on changing the face of Bihar.

Hajipur : RJD chief Lalu Prasad with sons Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap at a rally after the latter filed nomination papers from Mahula assembly constituency, in Hajipur on Monday. PTI Photo (PTI10_5_2015_000264B)
RJD chief Lalu Prasad with sons Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap at a rally in Hajipur PTI Photo

IE: What is your take on the current election?

T Yadav: The by-election that took place in Bihar after Modi’s 2014 election, for 11-12 seats, we had an alliance with JD(U), we won maximum seats. And that fight was there during the Modi-wave. Now that people have realised that Modiji just gives speeches and talks and talks, but, he does not do anything; whenever we see Modiji, he is always in election mode – either he is traveling abroad or he is giving speeches in some election rally – nothing else.

Whatever his programmes are, whether it is Make in India, maybe you know or you don’t, but the website of Make in India, is also made in America. So the person who can’t make his own website, what will he make in India?

The ‘Swacchata Abhiyaan’ is a flop. He managed to get his photograph taken and that was the end of Swacchata Abhiyaan of the country. What happened to the ‘Ganga Safaai Abhiyaan’? Nobody knows. Jan-Dhaan Yojana accounts were opened but no one got money. Modi said we will get black money back in India and every year he will give the people 2 crores rozgaar but after becoming Prime Minister what did he say? He says that for two years no one will get rozgaar from the Centre. The Chief Minister of Jharkhand says that no Bihari will get a job.

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When the new Maharashtra government was formed they said that till North Indians from Bihar and UP don’t know Marathi, they cannot drive a car. So they are discriminating. In Jammu and Kashmir you must know when disaster occurred and also at election time he announced financial packages. Till today Jammu Kashmir has received no package. They are instead repackaging the stuff that in 2008 the UPA government had offered, they are repacking this and saying that they will give packages to Bihar. They say that if BJP comes to power than they will give aid or else they won’t.

So this hypocritical face of BJP is well-recognised by the people of Bihar. And Amit Shah has clearly said that election time promises are ‘jumla’. Even after election it will remain a ‘jumla’. So people are watching this closely and learning to recognize double-face of BJP. In Bihar there is no fight. That is why BJP is very desperate. From New Delhi, a dozen cabinet ministers have come to fight the election and have left their work behind in Delhi. In whose hands the country is, nobody knows. BJP government of New Delhi is fighting a state election in Patna. What is happening no one cares, they are just focused on Bihar election because they are losing. If they were winning, then they would be relaxed. The Prime Minister would not have taken out 20-20 rallies in Bihar. He is coming running ( daude, daude aa rahe hai) in to address rallies after rallies. They are anxious, that is why they are coming. That shows that we have the upper hand. And that we have the edge.

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IE: So will supporters of Lalu give Nitish the vote, and will the supporters of Nitish give you the vote?

T Yadav: Of course. Why not? We are one. Alliance has taken place and we are one now. What is the difference between Laluji and Nitishji? Why have they united? On the issue of secularism. Because of the Babri Masjid incident and BJP’s kamandal campaign – on the basis of that also my father adopted certain politics. So change can take place. If people bring about change in themselves, then what is there. Imagine if there is an argument between you and me on an issue, then if we sit down and discuss it, then why can’t we solve it?

IE: What is you main poll plank?

T Yadav: I say BJP is anti-development. I talk about development. People are buying that. They are anti-development. Everyone knows it. What has happened in Dadri? People say that they just talk rubbish about secularism, and they are all paid off.  In Dadri, some RSS man announced from the temple that some people are eating cow meat. The people went and beat him up and killed him. So why did this happen?

IE: But Laluji also spoke about it.

T Yadav: Laluji spoke about beef. There is a difference between beef and gau-maas. Cow meat is different. Beef you have from buffalo to donkey etc, too, all the meat is included. That is the difference. You can find it out on Google. There is a difference between cow meat and beef. There is a huge difference. And what is wrong in this? ( Usme galat kya kha?) Shobha De tweeted that I eat beef and I am a Hindu, come kill me. Jethamalani said it, Justice Katju said it. Are they not Hindus? My father just said that some people eat. When they go out they eat.

IE: Then why did he change his stand? Why did he withdraw it?

T Yadav: See it was shown in a twisted manner. The whole line was broken up and represented wrongly. When these (BJP) people got stuck (phans gaye) in the reservation issue, then they want to try out their agenda. Why suddenly did this issue arise?

IE: Do you think that the Dadri issue will be raised here?

T Yadav: Yeah…yeah… on the topic of beef, Bihar’s development will take place. If BJP comes then Bihar development will take place, then why now are they backing out? Dadri issue will have no effect. Bihar has been secular since the beginning. And the secular people who are here are very powerful. Very positive. When Bombay, when the whole country, when Babri Masjid was burning, then it was only Bihar that was not burning. When my father was Chief minister here, he was successful in uniting the people. When my father ever said anything, never was there any fight or riot. They are always united, and Bihar will always be united and it will be secular. So there is not going to be any effect of the communal people, these are a minority here, and nothing is going to happen.

IE: Tejasviji people believe that there is competition between you and your brother. What is the truth?

T Yadav: My brother is senior. My sister is senior. I am the youngest. I am the eighth child. I have a younger sister who got married recently. My brother is older to me by a year. And Misa is the eldest. There is no talk of competition. Whether someone is there or not, we are one. There is no difference between Tej and Tejasvi. There is no difference between Misa Bharati Tej and Tejasvi. People should understand this. Where are we sitting on the seat of power? Nitishji will sit. If we were worried about our competition then why would we consider Nitishji as Chief Minister? We would not have done an alliance, we would have fought by ourselves.

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IE: What were your thoughts on the alliance with Nitishji?

T Yadav: We agreed to the alliance because we saw the way that the BJP people played the jati card in the Lok Sabha. You know how the Prime Minister used to keep saying I am pichhda! I am pichhda (backward) In fact, he is “ so-called” pichhda. He is not a ‘pichhda’. He is a tea-maker’s son. He said I am from Dwarka, yaduvanshis are brothers etc.. He attacked Mandal. And Nitishji, Laluji, they understood his game. That this is being targeted upon us. They decided to erase their differences and fight for their joint vision. And when the two big leaders of Bihar, Nitishji and Laluji, as you know, two of the biggest parties – JD(U) and RJD, if they are together, then it is for the development for Bihar. They are together for development. What does Laluji say? You talk of smart city. We talk of smart villages along with smart city. They are now copying us. Ravi Shankarji says that, yes, there will be a smart village as well. Now in election you are saying that smart villages will happen. Now, obviously, everything will happen from their side. But, we are talking of inclusive development. That is our priority.

IE: Some people say that if RJD gets more seats than JD(U), then Laluji will demand that the CM should come from his side.

T Yadav: How will this happen? Why will this happen? This cannot happen.

Once you have given a public commitment in front of everyone, Laluji has said that Nitish Kumarji will become CM even if my seats are more or not, he will be the face, he will sit in our driving seat, he will sit and only he will be there. Who will trust the politician, then? And my father is not a dhokebaaz. Once he has committed, he will stick to it. Whatever his ideas, he will stick to it. There is no talk like this. We will all be there, we are there. We just want the development of Bihar and to play a part in it.

IE: So is there any deal under which you will become deputy CM?

T Yadav: See the topic about deputy CM lots of people ask me, but no one asks the BJP about CM? Let the BJP announce their CM first then we will think about our deputy CM. We want to know, the people of Bihar want to know that who will be CM from BJP side?

IE: Tejasvi, see you have lived in Delhi, you have seen urban, modern life. Don’t you feel awkward that you are tagged with this Yadav caste?

T Yadav: See the jati is a sachchai. It is the truth of life. What is your surname, what is mine, let us remove it. Why do we put it? And did Laluji sit and decide the jati that this one will do this, that you are Brahman, you are baniya, you are Yadav, you are Muslim – this has been existing since many years. So don’t blame my father or our party for this. And when my dad talks about social justice, it is not only for the Yadavs.

It is about the backwards and the dalits and the mahadalits. It includes everyone. My father even says that even if there are poor people in the upper caste, then we include them as well. You must have heard him say this in many places. We are not jati-vaadi, we talk about the poor. You tell me how should we erase poverty? The country’s main problem is poverty. If there is some poor state, don’t you give them a separate package that yes this state should receive a little extra package, we should develop this further. But in our society how do you remove poverty? Till you don’t spread awareness… You tell me how many Brahmins are beggars?

How many baniya are beggars? See its not only caste caste caste! Where am I saying about caste? I am talking about the poor. Who has contributed the most in the creation of the modern cities? Do the poor, who build cities, not want to stay in those flats? I want to fight for him. So what is wrong about it? Now, this government is not releasing caste census. They have ignored it. And Hindu-Muslim census they have released. So this shows that you are communal, that you are not pro-poor. You are against poor people. What was the need to say that there are so many Muslims and so many Hindus? You should have said this that someone comes form a poor household, now he requires this and we have to do this. What will be the damage in releasing it? Are they afraid that they will have to create a separate budget for them? And when people talk about casteism and blame us, then this is very sad.

Even we can say how many brahmins there are in the PM’s cabinet. Tell me even one SC, ST or OBC officer in the PM’s Office. There is not even one appointed by this PM. But we are not saying. There might be a small change but it is very difficult. Let’s not talk about casteism. Let’s talk about poverty. Do it this way. We are fighting this, nothing more.

IE: But you yourself are living a five star life. You have the best cars, the best house.

T Yadav: So then I should go back to basics only? This is what stings people.

You know the state my father was in. When my father was five, then my grandfather Kundan Prasad passed away. They only had a small hut. My father had six siblings. My grandmother used to go and wash vessels in people’s houses. In a Phulwaria village near Goplaganj. My uncle Madanji used to work as a chaprasi and stay in the servant quarter in Patna. There my father used to stay and study. My birth took place in that quarter. The quarter was belonging to the veterinary college.

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IE: But you have not experienced poverty.

T Yadav: But half of my family has seen it. Besides me, my brother, sister, all their education and upbringing has been in that quarter. And I was born also there in the chaprasi quarter. But, things do change. And how will we bring the people ahead till we do not have the resources. If people have made my father the leader, then he is working for it too. Does he wear (Christian) Dior scarves like the PM does? Does he wear a Rs. 15 lakh suit? There is a difference. If the son of a chaiwala (tea maker) becomes a PM and wears a Rs. 15 lakh suit, then that is alright but if my father still wears a dhoti and ganji then that is not alright. What is this? This is not fair.

IE: Just because you were born in Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi’s house you got a ticket. Otherwise what is your qualification?

T Yadav: I will tell you. Why has this allegation been brought against my family, only? A few days ago I had done a press conference on parivaar-vaad (nepotism)? Just leave all this. Ravi Shankar Prasadji talks big, but his father was Thakur Prasadji, he was the founder of Jan Sangh. No one talks about him, everyone focuses only on Bihar and only talk about our family. Former CM Jagannath Mishra’s son Nitish Mishra is in politics. Why he is not defamed? Kirti Azad’s father Bhagwat Jha Azad was chief minister of Bihar, too. Why hasn’t there been allegation against them? Why they don’t face this question of ‘parivaar-vaad’? I am ready. Let’s finish it off dynasty from Indian politics. I am not holding any post right now in my party. I am ready and I will write it down on affidavit also that we should end ‘parivaar-vaad’. But are they ready?

The people who are holding the post in the BJP, whether it is Anurag Thakur, Varun Gandhi or Maneka Gandhi, the son of Rajnath Singh like Pankaj singh, the son of Vasundhra Raje… there are so many names I can quote you. The list is so long that I will have to write a book about the dynasties of BJP and their alliances why not talk about Ram Vilas Paswan? If Laluji also had the same worry for his sons, then like Chirag Paswan we should have been also be member of the Parliamentary Board of our party. But I am not. I have been working for the party since 2010.

IE: In public space, sorry to use the word, why is Lalu Prasad ji presents himself ‘comically’? How do you assess that?

T Yadav: Now see that’s the people’s view. In a lot of things he is serious. Just that he has his way of communication with the people in the rural areas. You know that when people of Bihar go outside the state, then in what ways people of other states insult them. The word Bihari has become an insult, a fashion to abuse. And if you see the tone that my father talks in, a dehaati kind of tone which he uses to communicate with the people, this is better, really. People can understand better what he is saying. He communicates very well. Now the people in the city, who have become modern, they think that he sounds very funny. Someone from the village when he goes to the city and talks, then the city people find it very funny. So maybe that is the reason he is seen in particular way. He is a mass leader. You present Laluji anywhere and you will see how many people turn up to see and listen to him. Even in railways he gave the best performance. At the Harvard, IIM Ahmedabad, everywhere people came and he was known as a management guru also. So wherever he has been, he has left his mark. The core is that Laluji is always addressing the poverty problem. How we can bring the poor people into conversation. The back bencher of the society, how they will come into mainstream – this has been his fight since the beginning; of social justice. After Mandal commission, the state of things as it was, and each time whatever the vision of Laluji was, he was committed to it and attached to it. And with these visions and ideas, he has never compromised unlike other politicians who have done. He has never compromised with the communal issues or with those against social justice. So, he has always remained with this vision and even now is committed to achieve it.

IE: How do you see your mother, Rabri Devi? In Delhi, the image is very different but I know her personally how she is.

T Yadav: When in critical situations, she flourishes. When my father was facing the case, along with the family, she ran all of Bihar. And not only once but twice, and even once the public has elected her chief minister and it is because of her work. And the change that came in her, the strength that she has, the patience, the way she knows things, she has knack of knowing people well – who are bad and who are good – so in this way she has managed and taken care of the party as well. Just a few days ago, when my father had gone to Birsa Munda jail, she held the party together and did not let them fall apart. People were saying that the party would break up, but the way she came and led from the front and kept the party together, I feel that is very good.

IE: How did you face the conviction of your father in the fodder scam?

T Yadav: See, in reality, people don’t really know what the fodder scam is.Chara-gotala’ people don’t really know about it. This has been continuing since 1977. It has been continuing since the time of Jaganath Mishraji and the chief ministers before him. In 1990 my father became the Chief minister. The leaders of the opposition kept saying that he has eaten the fodder ‘chaara kha gaye’ ‘chaara kha gaye’ Now that can happen only when we have money. Now you remember at that time CBI had put up Interpol notice, too. They had searched and investigated our house, even the house of our grandmother’s, they had dug up the front yard that maybe the money was buried in there. But they found nothing. We have won the DA case that was against my father and my mother in the Supreme Court. When there wasn’t enough evidence, and we have won the case, then where is the fodder scam? Why do you keep saying?

And the fodder case, that is continuing since 1977, how is he responsible when he only came to power in 1990? It is he who requested for the CBI. He was the whistleblower for that case. From 1990-1995 the way he carried out political change and brought about social justice ,maybe, some people may have a problem with it. They were feeling uncomfortable. In 1997 when the BJP formed the government, you also know that they wanted to make UN Biswas, CBI officer, Governor of some state. In all this, we are not the kind to get scared easily. A political family that does politics for the backward class, demands for their rights, then we have to face all this. There is no big deal about that. If in the future I also go with this opinion, then there will be allegation and case against me too, punishment also, but I have to fight this fight – this is what I have learnt.

IE:You are entering into politics this election, so what are you taking forward with you from your father?

T Yadav: See, a leader should be simple. Remain ordinary. My father is down to earth and open to meeting people, no one requires an appointment. In today’s time, if anyone even becomes member of the vidhan parishad, then they want you to come after an appointment only. When you go to Laluji, you can go without appointment. His doors are always open and you can meet, and discuss your problems and he will immediately react and take action and do your work.

IE: What did you learn from your mother?

T Yadav: My Mother is very polite. She is a very good listener. And I think that if you are in politics, you have to be a very good listener.

IE- Tejasviji , what brings you to politics?

T Yadav: See as I told you I was very aware socially and politically, from the beginning since the environment and the circle was like that. And Bihari’s are usually politically very active. So these things have been in me from the beginning. And whenever you see the way people have seen Bihar and worked in it, the view that outside people have , that is not quite good. So I want to change these kinds of things. Today’s youth, almost 58 per cent in Bihar, and even in the country similarly high ratio is there, so we have to take an initiative of these things. We cannot sit outside and criticize the youth. Till you don’t come into the boundary line and bring about a change in the system, new people don’t enter, new visions don’t come, and the way the BJP has ruined the public perception of Bihar, ‘jungle raj, jungle raj, jungle raj’. What is this about ‘jungle raj’? There should be some way about jungle raj. There should be facts on the table. They talk about crime but you can see the crime record of that time. All the data is available for you. Compared to other states, ruling state of BJP like Rajasthan, like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh we are faring okay in a relative term. In Madhya Pradesh the Vyapam scam happened, what is it? There are murders, there is corruption, has anything been done? Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are quite high in the list of crimes against women. Bihar is only number 22. Even the state of Chattisgadh is slipping. The BJP has been ruling there for fifteen years. What is happening to Jharkhand? See the crime rate in Jharkhand, especially in the capital Ranchi in front of the police station two people were killed, recently.

I am coming into politics to change the environment; I want to change the image of Bihar. I want to add to the development that Bihar is trying to bring about. The person who is the last in the queue who is still very poor, who does not get respect, I want to help to enable him to bring him respect. We will come ahead for his fight.

IE: The critics say Lalu Prasad wants to see that his two sons become stable in politics, and the Yadav community’s legacy continues.

T Yadav: There is no talk of any legacy or any inheritance of power. I don’t know why people are thinking like this. If Laluji wanted to do so then why did he make Ranjan Yadav? Why did he pick up Ram Kripal Yadav? Why would he pick Pappu Yadav and make him party’s leader? This question you should ask Ram Vilas Paswanji. Tell me even one leader in Paswan’s party who is not a part of their family? Do you know any Paswan leaders apart from their family? Why Chirag Paswan is there? Why Pashupati Paras is there? Why, only his younger brother a MP? Who will decide legacy? Neither Laluji can decide it, nor can I. This we should leave to the people. They will take Laluji’s legacy forward. It is not only about the Yadavs, it’s about Bihar.

IE: The Grand Alliance that you have of Nitish and Lalu is in focus. Laluji has spoken such ill of Nitishji in the past and Nitishji spoke about the ‘jungle raj” against Lalu. How does it feel today to sit with your enemy?

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T Yadav: See the jungle raj words were spoken in the court room. BJP took it up and spread it. It’s a simple matter. Look, when you are opposing each other then what else will you say against each other? If we see the status of NDA today, then what all did Paswanji say against the BJP earlier and what did the BJP say against Paswanji? Lalooji and Nitishji have come from the same background, same events of history. They have worked together in JP movement. Differences were there and they have now been clarified. Now Nitishji has realized the character of the BJP. He has been with them and worked with them, so easily you can realise how the people are and how the party is, and what their main agenda is – hidden agenda? When Nitishji realised their hidden agenda then he returned back to original fold. .

IE: Everyone says that the youth of Bihar will vote for Modi, do you believe this?

T Yadav: I don’t think so. What have they done for the youth? Why will the youth vote for Modiji? I want to know that first. Are we not for development?

(from Right to left) Tejashwi Yadav with his Mother and Former Bihar CM Rabri Devi and Elder Brother Tejpratap Yadav. Express Photo By Prashant Ravi. 16.10.2013.
Tejaswi Yadav (right) with his mother and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi and elder brother Tejpratap Yadav. Express Photo By Prashant Ravi.

IE: RJD leaders talk about caste.

T Yadav: I have not said it. Lalu ji says let development reach everybody. Laluji is not Modi ji jo bhashan kare aur kaam na kare! ( Lalu ji is not like Modi ji that only gives speeches and does no work.) In Railways he did not give speeches, he did the work and proved it. Has there been any rail minister who has done so much work? I challenge Modiji that even if he himself takes the Railway ministry and gets Rs. 90,000 crore profit then I will agree… What work has he done so far? Tell me. Gujarat was already a developed state from the beginning. It is not that only after Modiji that Gujarat has developed. And Bihar has been backward from the beginning. When my dad became the Chief Minister of Bihar, you must know that Gandhi Maidan and even Patna railway station was held by banks against debt. Bihar was in loss. And after him how it has grown. You can see the GDP from 1990 to 2000 in Bihar, it has always been climbing. So people keep spreading rumours that no work has been done, but if no work had been done then would he have stayed for 15 years? In Bihar the agenda that we have of development will remain. The people’s desire for change and development will keep growing. In a press conference, Arun Jaitley said that 51 per cent people of Bihar are labourers, every third family is without land, so many people beg here. Who are these people? Why has no attention been paid to them till today? This is what my father is saying that tell us who these people are so that we may develop a budget separately for them and work for them. We will work to uplift them – these back benchers of the society.

IE: But in spite of two big CMs with whom the public has been for 25 years you see problems all around. There is such poverty and suffering. What answer do you give for these 25 years?

T Yadav: How much fund we get, we didn’t get, if you start this discussion, then you have to go very deep. What did I say to you? What was there before 1990? Slowly there was improvement in the roads, in electricity, children involvement in school started increasing, children have started going to school. So see there have been changes and these changes will continue. If we talk of 25 years, then BJP has been the ruling Jharkhand for 15 years but what have they done? What have they done for tribals? Has that state developed or not? You can just compare Bihar and Jharkhand. Let’s compare Bihar and Jharkhand for last 15 years. People have actually come together to give an award to Nitishji for his work.

 

IE: Can you tell us something about yourself?

T Yadav: I am 26. I started playing professional cricket from 2000. I went to Delhi and I was very passionate about cricket. I was selected for the Delhi State team in which Virat Kohli, Ishan Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja – we were all in one batch. And in the under-15, under-17 and under-19, continuously at all three levels, I was the Delhi captain. And all these people including Virat Kohli were my colleagues and we played the North Zone, represented the under-19 Indian team in the World Cup and won, I was in the squad of Delhi Daredevils IPL, I played the Ranjee trophy.

I was a middle order batsman and an off-spinner bowler. But, the ankle ligament of both my legs got torn in injury. I turned very weak. In cricket we have to wear spikes all the time and even the Indian surface of the ground is quite hard and uneven, so because of that the doctor said that I will have to reduce my playing. I entered politics because from my childhood days , the atmosphere in my house has always been politically charged, people keep coming and going- the media, party workers, common people, so I was very politically and socially aware since early age.

IE: What’s your education like?

T Yadav: I studied till 9th grade in DPS, R.K. Puram and after that I was selected in cricket so I was focused into cricket only, I like to be a sportsperson and I made my career in that. And slowly, slowly I progressed , like if you see the Indian team today, out of fifteen, I think, twelve are my batch mates who are playing. Due to whatever reasons I am not playing, but my friends are in the squad.

IE: What kind of memories you have of your father. Lalu Prasad that we know will be, of course, different from your point of view? What is he like in the family?

T Yadav: He is very open minded. And from the beginning he has never forced any of his children that you have to do this or do that or that you have to make a career in this or anything.

From the beginning, whether my mother or my father, they have been liberal that in whichever field you are good and have interest, you should follow that. They always supported us. So normally like the care parents place on the daily eating and drinking of the children my father does. He will wake us up if we are sleeping late in the morning, cajole us to eat the breakfast, like a normal family man – this is how we were born and brought up.

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Even today, if in the morning if I am getting late, then he comes to wake us up. Sometimes he even scolds and says don’t sleep so late, wake up early. So these are the things that happen like in normal families but despite being son of two Chief Ministers, most of our upbringing has been quite down to earth and what traditions they have given us. if you meet anyone in our family, I am sure you will find there is no attitude or there is no arrogance, all are very down to earth. All my seven sisters are happily married and settled. Misa is the eldest. Rajlakshmi, who just got married in Mulayamji’s family, is the youngest. My father is quite homely and family-oriented.

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