Yadav says Nitish Kumar has cheated the people of Bihar and ruined the state in his 15 years of rule.
Tejashwi Yadav, RJD leader and Grand Alliance chief ministerial candidate, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian, said that his promise of providing 10 lakh jobs if elected to power, was based on a careful and well deliberated process. The 30-year-old Yadav, who is challenging the 69-year-old Nitish Kumar, said that he has already started talking to investors and inviting them to invest in Bihar to develop SEZs, IT parks while promising them a time-bound decision on all of their requests. Yadav said that law and order will be his topmost priority if elected to the CM’s post. Edited excerpts:
Q: You, while addressing a rally in Patna in July, had sought forgiveness from the people of Bihar for the mistakes that were committed during the 15-year-rule of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi. Why did you apologise? And could not this apology come earlier?
A: The one who has a spinal cord bends, those who don’t have any spine, they just crawl without any principles and ideology. No person or regime can be perfect. If anyone thinks he or his regime is perfect, he is mistaken. Our 15-year-regime brought governance at the doorstep of the poor and marginalised sections. The biggest mistake was that we could not advertise our great revolutionary achievements. There might be certain shortcomings in our rule. Though I wasn’t around at that time, still I have no hesitation to accept the shortfalls, if there were any. Natural feelings and expressions come spontaneously and aren’t based on a schedule. I am starting afresh with a clean slate with the blessings of 12.5 crore Biharis.
Q: You had initially given an indication that no criminal elements would be given the RJD symbol. However, as of today, hard-core criminals like Anant Singh and Reet Lal Yadav are contesting from the RJD. What made you reach out to individuals like them?
A: It’s up to the judiciary to decide who is a criminal and who is not. All cases (related to the RJD candidates mentioned) are sub-judice and tickets have been distributed in accordance with the law.
Q: Your rallies, without any doubt, are witnessing the biggest crowds, leaving even your Opposition leaders surprised and in a defensive mode. Are you yourself surprised by the response?
A: Why should I be surprised? One can gauge the love, support and blessings of the people for me, my vision for them which is evident from such mammoth gathering. At the same time, this is also indicative of the public anger and resentment against Nitish Kumar who has cheated, befooled the people of Bihar and ruined the state in his 15 years of rule.
Q: Bihar CM and deputy CM have ridiculed your promise of providing 10 lakh jobs if your party comes to power. From where will you arrange the funds for such a massive number of government jobs?
A: Criticizing and ridiculing are the easiest jobs to do. By saying so, they are ridiculing the plight of unemployed youths of Bihar. They don’t want to give jobs to our young brothers and sisters who have educational degrees in their hand, but are forced to migrate to other states and do menial jobs.
I have identified the backlog and creation of new positions, the same way I have a plan for provisions for their payrolls as well. Just to give you an idea, of the total budgetary expenditure only 12.7% expenditure is towards the salary component, 40% budget means Rs 80,000 crore remains unspent of the budgetary allocations per annum. So, it’s not as big a challenge Nitishji and his deputy are portraying. Simply put, job creation is revenue generation.
Q: There is practically no culture of industries in Bihar. One reason for that is the inept and caste focused bureaucracy and the sense of a weak and pliable law and order that has dissuaded corporates from investing in Bihar. What is your blueprint for tackling this problem?
A: Nitishji has crippled the bureaucracy who are now party to his coterie. Power corridors are synonymous with RCP tax. We would do a complete overhaul of policies and the functioning of the government. Ours would be a responsible government with responsive administration. We have already initiated talks with investors and I can assure entrepreneurs and industrialists that there would absolutely be no interference from anybody. We are going to establish SEZs, IT parks, industry specific clusters, ensure transparency and time-bound disposal of industrial requests.
Q: Do you believe that Chirag Paswan is the “B team” of BJP? And that he is working with the intent to weaken Nitish Kumar and JDU’s electoral prospects?
A: Chirag Paswan himself says he is with BJP and wants to see a BJP CM, he is an integral part of NDA which he says in his every speech. It’s for BJP and JDU to answer this question. I don’t need to comment on this.
Q: RJD, traditionally, has been known as a political party which promotes individuals from only two communities—Yadavs and the Muslims. Do you agree with this assessment? Are individuals and interests of other communities too important for the RJD, especially those belonging to the forward castes?
A: This notion has been portrayed by a few sections for obvious reasons. One should compare the representation of ministers and legislators from all communities in our government and the NDA government. We are the only party having a significant and respectable representation of all communities from A to Z, be it government or the party organisation. If you see the broad spectrum of ticket distribution of this election, you will get the answers to your questions.
Q: We have been interacting with people of Bihar and though they are unhappy with Nitish Kumar’s government, they fear that law and order will become a casualty if the RJD-led Grand Alliance comes to power. How would you like to respond to this concern?
A: NCRB data says otherwise. Crimes have increased 101% during Nitish Kumar’s rule (2005-2018). Brutal rape of innocent girls in shelter homes of Muzaffarpur happened in Nitish Kumar’s rule. Bihar has become a lawless state in the JDU-BJP regime. I say this with complete ownership and responsibility that law and order will be our top priority and strictest compliance of the rule of law shall be there without any interference.
Q. Nitish Kumar has earned the sobriquet of Sushashan Babu due to his focus on clean governance. If you become the Chief Minister, what are the top three issues that you will focus on?
A: It’s a shrewdly crafted image he has got by spending several hundred crores on PR exercise. We have unmasked this camouflage with facts and figures and the reality of this hollow Sushasan is out for everyone to see. If there was good governance, then why is Bihar ranked highest in crimes on NCRB index? Why is Bihar ranked lowest on all evaluation parameters of Niti Aayog, NHRM, WHO etc? As envisaged in our manifesto, our topmost priority would be providing 10 lakh jobs to our youths. We will provide the best healthcare and education. Setting up industries is on our agenda. I can tell you after five years, you would see a new Bihar with improved performance in all areas.
Q: I am sure you believe that Bihar is yearning for a non-Nitish Kumar model of governance. Why should the voters of Bihar, especially the educated ones, staying in urban and semi-urban areas, vote for Tejashwi Yadav?
A: I am seeking votes and support to solve people’s issues. I have already put forth my agenda on how I intend to solve the problems that my state and my people are facing. This resonates with the aspirations of educated unemployed youths. They know that my promises are real and workable. I am streamlining the recruitment process which will ensure that our youths don’t suffer for the wrongdoings of Nitish Kumar’s government. Today, it takes 5-6 years to complete a graduation course. Then, the recruitment process remains incomplete for years. To address this problem, we decided to raise the age limit for general as well as reserved categories. We will reserve up to 85% seats for the natives of Bihar, waive application fees and provide free transportation from their home to examination centres. You can see how concerned and committed we are to provide jobs to youth brothers and sisters of my state. I appeal to voters of Bihar to bless me with an opportunity to serve them and collectively embark on a journey to make Bihar a progressive and developed state in the country.