Updated: August 24, 2015 8:46:58 am
In this interview to Appu Esthose Suresh, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav blames the BJP for the rise of communal incidents in Bihar and wants the state government to prepare a special strategy to deal with it.
Police records show that the number of communal incidents in Bihar has tripled after the BJP-JD(U) break-up. Why do you think this has happened?
I anticipated it. I have known the BJP for a long time; they were supporting our government in 1989. We accepted their support and worked together for correcting social disparity. But as soon as we introduced Mandal (caste-based reservation), the BJP introduced Mandir (the Ram Janmabhoomi movement) and brought our government down. We stood with the Constitution of India and severed our ties then. We severed our ties with the BJP again in 2013 once we realised they want to plant the seeds of partition again. And now you are producing evidence of it.
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Are you accusing the BJP of instigating communal violence?
Yes. Who else is doing it? Who else is benefiting from it? My constituency has parts of two districts, Madhepura and Saharsa. Saugarh, a village on the border of Madhepura district, witnessed its first incident of communal violence in 2014. And as you are saying, these kinds of incidents are on the rise. It explains how the BJP, which doesn’t even have a corporator in any of the adjacent districts, swept a region (in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls) that always stood with socialist forces.
You said in the beginning you “anticipated it”. If so, why did the JD(U) government not prevent these incidents?
You have raised a pertinent question. Our agenda (of severing ties with the BJP) was right, but the timing was wrong. We did not prepare enough before severing ties. We should have slowed down the BJP.
Did communal polarisation lead to your loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
There were two reasons. The BJP, through these incidents, cleverly polarised one section of the population. Then, the other section, which is still the larger one, got divided into several pieces.
Is the realisation that voters are being polarised on communal lines one of the reasons behind your initiative of forging a larger coalition of the erstwhile Janata Parivar?
Yes, of course. The BJP made substantial gains in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkand. Here, the voters who stood with humanist forces got divided. In politics, there are cycles. When the socio-economic discourse that discusses the caste system recedes, religion takes centrestage.
Are you hinting at reviving the caste-politics discourse in the upcoming elections to counter what you refer to as communal polarisation in Bihar?
I am talking about bringing the debate of socio-economic disparity to the political discourse. It is no hidden secret that the caste system is responsible for this disparity.
How are you planning to tackle concerns of communal polarisation politically?
Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are honestly committed to secularism. That is the strength of the present government in Bihar. The government should identify these small theatres of communal violence and devise a special strategy to deal with it. Not only that, the workers of the RJD, the JD(U) and the Congress should communicate the truth behind these incidents at the village level and alert the masses. There should be a humanist movement again, like what JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) and (Ram Manohar) Lohia led in the 1970s. It is important because we are approaching a harvesting season of communal violence. The elections are coming, many festivals are coming, the government and the coalition partners should prepare a special strategy.
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