The politics of Bihar is going through an interesting phase. Two young leaders, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Chirag Paswan, are trying to challenge the hegemony of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), while there are questions on the future of Nitish Kumar, as he himself indicated that this may be his last term. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also working hard in the state. The JDU has got a new president. Keeping all this in the background, The Sunday Guardian talked to Chief Spokesperson and Senior Janata Dal (United) leader, Neeraj Kumar, to get an idea in which direction the politics of Bihar is going. Excerpts:
Q: How do you see the new found friendship and potential alliance between RJD and Chirag Paswan. Many believe that their alliance can electorally challenge the NDA in Bihar.
A: Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Chirag Paswan are in an unwritten alliance since the Bihar assembly elections of 2020. Chirag Paswan helped the RJD and its allies in the election by dividing the vote of NDA. He damaged not only the Janata Dal (United), but also the BJP. Tejashwi Prasad Yadav reached the Bihar Assembly because of Chirag Paswan as his candidate divided the vote of BJP’s candidate in Raghopur. Moreover, now Chirag Paswan is one person, his party has split. In his own parliamentary constituency of Jamui, what was the performance of LJP in the Assembly polls? They performed very badly. So, I don’t think the alliance is a threat for the NDA in Bihar anyhow.
Q: You are considered very close to both Nitish Kumar and Lalan Singh. Many political experts in Bihar consider you the chief advisor and friend, philosopher and guide of the new JD(U) president. Nobody understands his future agenda for the party better than you; tell us what will be his agenda?
A: Lalan Singh is the national president of the party. He has been associated with our leader Nitish Kumar for a very long time. They struggled together against the misrule of Lalu Prasad Yadav. I also joined them through socialist politics of the Samata Party, as a worker and considered them elder brothers. After getting appointed as the president of the JD(U), Lalan Singh made it clear that his only aim is to take the party to new heights and improve its footprints across the country. The beauty of Lalan Singh is his commitment to the socialist cause. His agenda will be the uplift of the party and strengthen the organizational structure across the country.
Q: Is this the last term of Nitish Kumar? He himself has given some indication to that effect. How do you see the future of JDU after that?
A: Nitish Kumar’s statement had been misinterpreted. There is no question of retirement as of now. In Bihar, the works of Nitish Kumar had a huge impact among the masses, particularly the poorer sections of society across the caste divide and he is ready to work more for the state with zeal in the coming years. So, there is no question of retirement.
Q: You have seen the alliance between the JDU and the BJP since the 2000s—the rule of NDA-1, between 2005-13, and NDA-2, between 2017-2020. Now, many believe in the NDA-3, post 2020 polls, the BJP is dominating things. Is it true?
A: First of all coalition politics is the reality and necessity of Bihar. If you see the political trajectory of Nitish Kumar between 2005 to 2021, he has not done any compromise on the governance agenda. The seven commitment (saat nischay) part-1 was coined by Nitishji in 2015 elections. The alliance changed in between in 2017 July, but his programmes and agenda remained the same. Moreover, we are more comfortable in the NDA alliance as our leader is able to work freely. In our NDA alliance, nobody dominates; it’s our collective commitment for the development and progress of Bihar.
Q: What is your reaction to the charges levelled on Tarkishore Prasad? Tejashwi Prasad Yadav had asked hard-hitting questions to your leader Nitish Kumar on this too?
A: Tarkishore Prasad had explained the whole issue in front of the media. It is ironic that Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and the Lalu family speak on corruption. Is Tarkishore Prasad director in any company? Is he a beneficiary? In the case of Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and the IRCTC scam in which he is an accused, property was transferred to him.
The members of the Lalu family were the directors in the companies. The IRCTC scam is a bigger scam than the fodder scam committed by Lalu Yadav. It is in the trial stage as charges have been framed. Therefore, any comparison between Tarakishore Prasad and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is totally wrong and unjustifiable.