Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar's desire to make a comeback as Bihar chief minister has hit a major roadblock. First, the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections cost him the Bihar CM’s post and later Jitan Ram Manjhi, the man he nominated to succeed him as the CM, turned against him.
When his party, Janata Dal (United), cut ties with long-term ally the Bharatiya Janata Party, Kumar would not have thought that the decline in his political fortune would be directly proportional to the rise of the BJP at the Centre. Not just this, he has now accused the BJP of scripting the current political crisis in Bihar.
In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora and Biplob Ghosal of Zee Media Group, Janata Dal-United national general secretary KC Tyagi discusses the current political scenario in Bihar and its impact on the forthcoming Assembly Elections.
Does your party now regret the decision of appointing Jitan Ram Manjhi as CM?
Tyagi: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has realised it himself that he took the decision (of appointing Jitan Ram Manjhi as CM) hurriedly.
The BJP says Nitish Kumar's hunger for power is the main reason behind the current political crisis in Bihar, do you agree with it?
Tyagi: This has happened for the first time in the Indian politics that a leader resigned on the moral grounds. In the Lok Sabha elections, many leaders and their parties lost, except BJP. But only Nitish Kumar tendered his resignation on moral grounds. And this was his third resignation in the last 20 years. So, it is not right to say that Nitish Kumar is power hungry.
Why do you think Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is delaying the floor test? Why has your party been demanding that the floor test be done immediately?
Tyagi: The whole script that has been played in Bihar is written in Delhi by (BJP president) Amit Shah. Horse-trading was done in the state on his directive. Jitan Ram Manjhi has just 12 MLAs and we have 98 MLAs. If we combine MLAs from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI), and Independents, the number comes out to be 130. We have paraded 130 MLAs, and submitted their signatures and ID cards before Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and President Pranab Mukherjee. Both the President as well as the Governor have not denied the fact. Delaying the floor test encourages horse-trading, which is against healthy tradition of democracy.
How much damage has Jitan Ram Manjhi done to JD(U) in Bihar?
Tyagi: Appointing him was a political mistake. He has not managed to damage our party. Our coalition is very much intact. Actually, the fight is not against Manjhi, but against the opportunism and conspiracies of the BJP. Nitish Kumar had snapped ties with the NDA when Narendra Modi was about to be elevated within the BJP. I think the BJP is now avenging what Nitish Kumar did at that time.
Your party snapped ties with the BJP over Narendra Modi's elevation ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Since then the BJP has seen a tremendous rise whereas JD(U) has been on the downfall. Do you consider your past decision a mistake as now the same BJP is the biggest threat to you in the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls?
Tyagi: Our alliance for the upcoming Assembly polls is very strong. In bye-elections held on August 21, 2014, our alliance won six out of 10 Assembly seats. Before the bypolls, the BJP was holding eight seats.
But what about Lok Sabha elections? You managed to bag only two seats.
Tyagi: In General Elections, the entire nation was misled by false promises like Rs 15 lakh will be deposited in people's accounts, minimum support price will be fixed to ensure 50 percent profit to farmers, five crore people will get employment. Not only the JD(U), but almost all the parties, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Indian National Lok Dal, Communist parties, Aam Aadmi Party faced defeat in the 2014 Parliamentary Elections. The General Elections were different.
In a bid to rein in the 'Modi wave', Nitish Kumar has teamed up with friend-turned-foe Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Prasad. Until now, JD(U) considered RJD its biggest rival and had criticised it for years. Now that you have shaken hands with Lalu Prasad, don't you think it will send a wrong message to the Bihar electorate?
Tyagi: Nitish Kumar and Lalu ji were together 20-25 years ago and were in the same party. Then we had some differences and departed. Thereafter, we fought elections against each other. However, in present situation, we have come together to halt the BJP's winning streak and counter its divisional politics. We will have a common minimum programme. The trend of forging an alliance is evident everywhere in the country. In Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is aligning with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I have the manifesto of PDP in which it is written that Kashmir will be governed by Kashmiris alone and central government will have no role, and the chief minister will be called Wazir-e-Azam, Governor will be called Sadr-e-Riyasat, two flags and two Constitution will be there. This had even caused Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee's death. Political opportunism is being practised all over the country, so why only blame us.
We are not in a position to counter the BJP and that is why we have aligned with the RJD, Congress and CPI. We had fought against Congress for 50 years by forging such an alliance. In the past, Congress was the biggest opposition and now it is the BJP.
What will be the impact of current crisis in Bihar elections?
Tyagi: I told you earlier also that our alliance is very strong on the ground and this political crisis will have no impact on the Bihar Assembly polls. This is nothing but a game plan of the BJP and Manjhi is just a pawn. As the election nears, Manjhi and his team will either join BJP or become irrelevant. Our main fight is with the BJP.
Mulayam, Lalu are considered to be opportunists. Your say.
Tyagi: I don't agree with such conclusions. We worked together during Socialist movement. As far as the politics of opportunism is concerned, it has become a part of the Indian politics. I want to prove my point by giving an example of Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who had resigned from former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Cabinet after 2002 Gujarat riots. Later, he went to Pakistan and told Nawaz Sharif that he resigned because of Modi's autocratic and communal style of politics. Now, the same Paswan is a minister in the Modi Cabinet.
Why didn't Nitish Kumar resign from the NDA government after the 2002 riots?
Tyagi: Nitish ji was a part of Vajpayee Cabinet and not Modi's. After Gujarat riots, the then PM had said that he hangs his head in shame.
How confident are you about the Janata Parivar?
Tyagi: You must have seen that under the leadership of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Nitish Kumar met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday over Bihar political row. As far as the date of merger is concerned, the process will take some time and we are working on it. We are united.
Who will be the Bihar CM if your alliance wins the Assembly Elections?
Tyagi: Our party as well as the alliance is intact. The elected MLAs of our party and representatives of Janata Parivar will sit together and take the final decision.