Tejashwi Yadav, Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly and former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian.
Q: The general perception is that the Rashtiya Janata dal (RJD) has become a family party, in which only the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav are promoted. How would you counter this perception?
A: This argument of family based party holds no ground in democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders. No one can impose theirs wards or family members on the will of the voter. We are living in Loktantra era, not Rajtantra. If you look at the list of BJP leaders from north to south and west to east, you would find the BJP has the maximum number of family leaders. They blame others in order to hide their own “sins”.
Q: The RJD has planned for a rally in Patna on 27 August with the objective of “BJP Bhagao”. However, a rally in Patna will not vanquish the BJP from the country. What is the real purpose of the rally?
A: No single action will take you to the desired destination in one stroke. This applies to every walk of life, not just politics. But a series of events and steps will definitely take you increasingly closer to that goal. The purpose of our rally is to inform people about the shabby underperformance of the Central government and how it is resorting to the politics of fear, violence, discrimination, propaganda and money muscle to divert the discourse to right wing extremism, in order to hide its incompetence. We will symbolically unite the Opposition with representation from all major political parties in the rally. It is an RJD rally and for our supporters it will serve as a vent to voice their anger against all those unfortunate things that have been happening in our country for the last three years and not to forget the insult that Nitishji has inflicted to the mandate of the people of Bihar.
Q: Are you confident that senior leaders from various political parties will attend the rally as you have been claiming? Mayawati has already said no and so have Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. How sure are you about the successes of this rally?
A: Desh Bachao, Bhajpa Bhagao Maharally is an RJD rally. It’s not a rally of all the Opposition parties. So too much must not be read into the top leaders of other political parties not attending it. All leaders who are unable to attend the rally have conveyed their personal reasons behind their absence to us. Soniaji personally spoke to me yesterday and Rahulji has prior commitments and we were aware of it. Not to forget, these parties will be represented by their senior leaders. CPI and Mamata Banerjeeji will be joining us. The rally will be a huge success.
Q: Your opponents are attacking you by saying that while Bihar is reeling under floods, RJD MLAs, MPs are more focused on their rally, forgetting the miseries of the common people. How would you respond to these charges?
A: They are in power and yet they are busy trading charges, instead of doing their bit to minimise the suffering of the people affected by the floods. There was a prior warning about the possibility of massive floods. It has become an annual affair. Nitish Kumar is heading the state government for 13 years. This is a long time. Had he gone for a long term plan to minimise or decrease the possibility of floods, so many people might not have died each year due to the floods. When they should have been preparing to control the level of devastation due to the floods, they were, instead, conspiring to topple the Mahagathbandhan government and later on how to get plum ministries. The money they made through the Srijan scam could have proved handy for the rehabilitation of the flood affected people.
Q: How are you planning to arrange logistics for this rally, considering you are out of power and your opponents are very hostile right now?
A: Where there is a will, there is a way. People of Bihar are aggrieved with the manner in which Nitish Kumar manipulated their mandate to further his own shrewd goal. They want to let Nitish Kumar know their anger by thronging the Gandhi Maidan in huge numbers on Sunday, 27 August. Many trains which do not pass through the flood affected regions have been cancelled by the government to hinder only this. But people will themselves find a way through all obstacles to reach Gandhi Maidan anyhow. Our people contribute on their own and they travel on their own. You must be aware that we don’t put up tents like the BJP. Our supporters sweat under the sun to show their solidarity. We are a party of the poor, by the poor and for the poor. We are socialists, not capitalists like the BJP.
Q: Many young political leaders are emerging in India. How do you see yourself, considering you became a Deputy CM at a very young age? And how do you rate your performance as Deputy CM?
A: It is up to the people to rate me as a politician, administrator or possibly a leader. For me, I have no hesitation in stating that I have done quite a satisfactory job in my role as a minister or Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar. My ministry was the best performing ministry in the Bihar government. Many senior officials who had served under many government and ministers had generously praised me for my result oriented working style.
Q: Will you be the next RJD president when the time comes? Do you think that senior party leaders will accept this transition?
A: I don’t have any organisational post in the party. I am an ordinary party worker. All senior party leaders are solidly with the party and I’m also a part of the party. They are solidly backing the party to take on the BJP’s divisive politics.
Q: So many cases are registered against your name from a very young age. Will this not have an adverse effect on your political life? How do you plan to overcome it—legally and politically?
A: Yeah, so many cases are registered against me for the crimes that I committed as a 14-year-old. Is it some kind of a joke or what? You don’t have to be a genius to understand that these are politically motivated cases against me. The entire nation knows that these are politically motivated cases. When the BJP can’t fight with us electorally, then they use their agencies to dent our image and build a negative perception about us and our party. We are already in the people’s court and you must be having the report that how people are responding to our Janadesh Apman Yatra and rally.