What would you say about Nitish Kumar’s move today?
The BJP has been talking about industrial development, people’s welfare and new schemes. Development with dignity for people has been the theme we were talking about. But for the last three or four months, he (Nitish) was talking with Tejashwi Yadav. He went and attended the iftaar programme of Tejashwi. But the most interesting part was, he was always asking us what happened to the cases against RJD leaders…. Now with Bhola Yadav (Lalu Prasad’s former aide) arrested, and evidence against the family, Nitish thought it was the right time to destroy RJD.
He thinks once the leadership is gone, RJD voters will come to JD(U). His ultimate aim is to finish RJD.
What’s next for BJP?
The BJP will win most seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. In 2025 (Assembly polls), we will form a government on our own.
But did Nitish Kumar not play a role in bringing in Extremely Backward Classes (EBC) votes to NDA?
The NDA was initially not doing great in Mithila and Magadh region (where EBC votes are crucial). But things became brighter only after Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on an extensive poll campaign. He used to address multiple rallies each day — that brought NDA the victory. It was a mandate for Narendra Modi.
How difficult is it going to be for BJP, without any alliance now in Bihar?
Bihar is one state where BJP had difficulty in forming the government on its own. (But) Narendra Modi’s popularity is beyond any caste equations. His goodwill transcends caste differences…. Next time, we will definitely form a government.
Do you see a possibility of Nitish Kumar becoming the leader the Opposition pitches against Modi?
How can a leader who cannot even (win) one-third seats in his state on his own be pitched against Narendra Modi? He has become a habitual Paltu Ram (turncoat) — Lalu Prasad had coined that word, (and) he was right…he (Nitish) keeps jumping from one alliance to another. He has changed three times in eight years.
He did not feel comfortable because we started raising genuine issues. We started talking about internal security, we raised the issue of non-implementation of crop insurance scheme, and why we were not taking care of the scheme to reach drinking water in every household, etc. When we spoke of Har Ghar Nal Yojana marketing, he became uncomfortable…because he felt why should Narendra Modi get all the credit. The Centre was spending money for the projects.
There were other issues, too. Bihar is the only state where cracker-bursts lead to collapse of a three-storey building. It happened at many places in Bihar — bomb blasts are termed as crackers burst. Some bureaucrats and their nexus are shielding criminal activities. Wherever a person is caught for illegal activities, there is a Bihar connection to it. We started asking these questions.
Whenever there is a person caught for anti-national activities in India, there is a Bihar connection to it. Whenever we ask this question, he would become very uncomfortable.
Does BJP have a face to pitch against Nitish Kumar in the next elections?
BJP is a karyakarta-based party and our party does not fight elections with one leader. Once the election is won, our Parliamentary board picks the leader. Our party is not individual-based. There are many leaders in Bihar BJP better than Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav.
When did the ties start going sour? When did you sense it?
When he shifted from 1-Anne Marg (CM’s residence) to be Tejashwi Yadav’s neighbour. When we started demanding changes in industrial policy for industry growth in Bihar, he would not react. When we pointed out issues with the implementation of crop insurance scheme, he would feel uncomfortable. Whenever there is something done by the Centre, he does not like it.
Some of your party leaders said it’s a good riddance. Why?
We helped Nitish Kumar when he had only six seats in 1998. When he had 33 and we had 67 seats, we put him at the top. In 2005, too, when we won more seats, we put him as the Chief Minister. His party was not ready to make him CM (but) BJP leaders like Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley pitched him for the post.
Whatever he had done in the first term as CM was good work. But he then became a habitual Paltu Ram.
What’s your biggest fear now?
We have been trying to make BIhar an industrial state. We have taken steps for it and it has been on the right track. But with Tejashwi Yadav in the governing coalition, we are afraid that Bihar will once again fall in the grip of corruption, and whatever we have done in the last few months would go to waste. That was the reason we did not want RJD to be in power in Bihar.
With Tejashwi Yadav on the driving seat, we fear jungle raj can return.