Amid the political upheaval in the NDA ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections — with the LJP exiting the NDA in the state and at least five BJP ‘rebels’ switching over — Sanjay Jaiswal, president of the BJP in Bihar, tells The Indian Express “only those who accept Nitish Kumar as CM can remain part of the NDA”.
The NDA is a divided house in Bihar. How is it going to impact the polls?
It’s not divided at all. In Bihar, the leader of the NDA is Nitish Kumar and anyone who accepts Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister is part of the NDA. Those who disagree are not part of the NDA.
But the LJP remains part of the government at the Centre.
That does not matter. Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP founder and Union minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) was not in a position to take decisions. If he was working, things would have been different. Unfortunately, those who are deciding the issue are on the wrong track. We tried to settle… but they are not very practical people.
There are allegations that the BJP has propped up ‘rebels’ against the JD(U).
We have never done that kind of politics. We will try and convince every rebel till the last date of withdrawal… If we fail to bring them back into our fold till 5 pm on October 12, action will be taken against them. They are part of our party and we do not want them to go in the wrong direction.
Is it true that Nitish Kumar was upset and refused to attend the joint press conference?
Absolutely not. We are in a very cordial relationship. Interestingly, when we had discussions on seat distribution, we were having some issues regarding candidates. We took two candidates from the JD(U) side — Pramod Sinha and Krish Kumar Mandal for Shahpur Kalan and Amnour — and the JD(U) reciprocated by taking two of our candidates into their fold — Amar Kumar Singh and Saba Zafar (Amour).
But the JD(U) is visibly upset about the BJP rebels switching over to the LJP to contest against candidates of the JD(U) and HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha).
The district president of the JD(U) in Kaimur has joined LJP and is fighting against our candidate, who is a sitting MLA. It’s a two-way story. Both sides are trying to pacify them (the rebels). Once the withdrawal date is over, both parties will take action against them.
The LJP says Nitish Kumar is not the Nitish Kumar of 2000 or 2005… Why is the BJP still projecting him as the face of the alliance?
Look at the way Nitish Kumar has handled governance since 2005. It has been phenomenal… We are going to win with more than 200 seats.
Given that there have been so many issues between the partners, how are BJP and its allies ensuring unity and mutual support among workers during the campaign?
That is not a problem. We have coordination committees in every district. The four parties — BJP, JD(U), HAM and Mukesh Sahni’s party (Vikassheel Insaan Party) — will work together. We have a very cordial relationship. We know each other well.
Would you let LJP use PM Modi’s posters in its campaign?
PM Modi is our star campaigner, the number one in our list. How can anyone else use the star campaigner of the NDA? If they do, the Election Commission should take action. We have given that in writing to the EC.
The Hathras incident has triggered widespread protests across the country. How is it going to affect the polls in Bihar?
Whatever happened is unfortunate. The Uttar Pradesh government has already taken action — an SIT has been set up.
What are the main challenges for the BJP? The state has faced several crises —Covid, return of migrant labourers, flood, etc. There is also an anti-incumbency factor and now, an ally with almost 5 per cent of the vote is fighting separately.
The people will decide what kind of government they want. They have seen Mahagathbandhan rule from 1990-2015. They have seen the NDA rule too. They will choose what they want. Whatever people choose, we will accept it. In the last eight months, people have seen our work and how pro-poor we are.
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