Having completed 50 public meetings across the state, Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is back at his parents’ residence in Patna. In the absence of father Lalu Prasad, who was denied bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, making it the first time he is not campaigning since he floated the RJD, Tejashwi is the main campaigner for the party:
The NDA is banking on its pitch of development and national security. What do you have to offer?
The NDA has failed its promises… Bihar has not been not given special status despite ‘double engine’ government (the NDA in power in both the state and Centre)….
We are talking about implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations in Bihar and have also promised reservation in the private sector and bringing back the old university roster system (in the new system, the number of SC/ST/OBC posts have fallen).
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Why isn’t the RJD talking about the Congress’s NYAY scheme?
I agree, there is a need to talk about it more with rural voters. The Congress should do it. I often try to discuss it in my meetings.
Is all well in the Mahagathbandhan? The Congress was given just nine seats out of 40 , and not of its choice.
We have succeeded in bringing in several alliance partners, like the CPI(M-L). Last time, we fought in 27 seats but we are contesting 19 now. The Congress fought on 12 and is fighting nine now. We had to accommodate others.
There is speculation over the RJD not backing ally CPI’s Begusarai candidate, Kanhaiya Kumar.
The CPI(M-L) has a bigger base than the CPI in Bihar. I have no issues with Kanhaiya Kumar. We shared dais at Jantar Mantar (in Delhi). We had to decide (on Begusarai) keeping in view our organisational strength. Our Begusarai candidate, Tanveer Hasan, had got 3.69 lakh votes last time in that situation (the Modi wave).
Is Rahul Gandhi PM material?
We will surely support Rahul Gandhi (for PM) as leader of the main party in the UPA. (About not naming a PM nominee) we had fought the 2004 Lok Sabha polls without any PM nominee either, that too against Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Prashant Kishor met me several times as well. This was within six-seven months of Nitish Kumar rejoining the NDA… Kishor offered that there could be a trust vote in which the RJD should support the JD(U) and later join the government. When we said no, another idea was floated, of the JD(U) merging with the Congress. But there was no way we could have trusted Nitish Kumar.
Between Nitish Kumar and the BJP, who is your principal opponent?
Nitish Kumar lost his credibility in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when his party was reduced from 20 seats to two. If we break the result Assembly segment-wise, his party lost security deposit in 135 (out of 243 seats). Even now, he is hardly able to draw crowds. It is the BJP that is our principal opponent.
Your brother Tej Pratap has raised a banner of revolt.
I have nothing to say on this. There are bigger issues like saving democracy.
How badly is the RJD missing Lalu?
He had been our main campaigner till the last election. Not just me and the party, almost everyone misses him. There is anger among public at his absence. We talk about him being a victim of political vendetta and injustice.