Updated: June 3, 2022 7:51:27 am
Vacating his 7, Tughlaq Road residence in the national capital’s Lutyens’ zone, where he stayed for 22 years as a key player in national politics, socialist veteran Sharad Yadav had on Tuesday not given any hint of retirement from politics, saying “Sangharsh jari rahega (struggle will continue)”. As he settles at his daughter’s house in a Delhi suburb Chhatarpur now, Yadav, 74, who recently merged his Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), speaks to The Indian Express on a host of burning political issues. Excerpts:
You are regarded as one of the socialist stalwarts. What role do you see for yourself in national politics now, especially when you are not in Parliament after 11 stints as an MP?
Ups and downs are part of politics. Everybody does not get to become an MP. I had been lucky to be in Parliament for 11 terms. But whether I am an MP or not, I would continue to do my bit for national politics. I would continue to do what I used to do earlier. There are lakhs and crores of political workers playing their role. I am now one of them. This is nothing but socialism.
Some Opposition leaders have met you in recent months. Rahul Gandhi also met you. What do you make of the Opposition’s bids to come together on a single platform?
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I am not keeping well these days and have to undergo dialysis every two days. Yet, I have been trying hard for the Opposition unity and would continue to do so. Our democracy, Constitution and country do need the Opposition unity. Itihas me aese mouke kam aate hai (history rarely warrants such urgency). I told Rahul Gandhi about this urgent need for Opposition unity, which is very crucial for democracy.
Why do you think the Opposition unity has not fructified so far? Is lack of a consensus PM candidate holding it back?
The Opposition unity has fructified several times in the past. It is surely a very difficult job and does need serious efforts. But attempts for it have to be made as this is the need of the hour for the country. There is no need for a consensus (PM) candidate for it. Was there a consensus Opposition leader during Emergency? There was also no leader when HD Deve Gowda had emerged as the PM candidate from nowhere.
How do you rate Narendra Modi as PM, who just completed eight years in office?
It is not important to discuss what and how the present government has been doing. The most important point is Opposition should stick together so that there could be checks and balances over the functioning of the government… It is a matter of concern that the temple issue (Gyanvapi case) is being raked up. It will only cause discord in society. After all, such issues were not taken up before.
What are your views on the caste census issue? You have always spoken about dismantling the caste system but the socialist parties, including the RJD, have been mounting pressure to get a caste census conducted. Is it not contradictory?
I was among leaders such as Mulayam Singh, Gopinath Munde and Lalu Prasad to impress upon the Manmohan Singh government to conduct a caste census. But it turned out to be an erroneous caste census. I am firmly in support of caste census… I do not see any contradiction in socialist parties backing the demand for a caste census because caste is a sad reality of our society. Socialist icon Dr Rammanohar Lohia did talk of dismantling caste and encouraged inter-caste marriages. More and more inter-caste marriages should happen but caste census is also necessary.
Do you feel disheartened about not getting nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the RJD?
The discussion on the Rajya Sabha seats should not take place now. Their nominees have been announced.
What role do you see for yourself in the RJD, especially when the second generation of the Lalu Prasad family is at the helm now?
Generational change has to take place. Time keeps changing and we all have to accept it.
How do you see Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as a leader? Has he come out of his father Lalu Prasad’s shadow now?
He is coming off as a very good leader now and has evolved very well as a leader. He works hard and is liked by masses. I foresee a very bright future for him.
You had once said Nitish Kumar cannot stick to one party for a long time. Do you sense he could take another political turn?
I would not like to take this question. What is bygone is bygone. I would not like to discuss an individual.
Some people have started trying to write you off now?
It is not correct. Some people are still writing about me. I have decided to speak less and focus more on how I can contribute despite my health issues.
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