‘This divided Opposition couldn’t gain anything, so we have come together’
Sharad Yadav, President, Janata Dal (U) and nine-time parliamentarian, speaks to Hardnews about the grand alliance in Bihar
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi
What are the major issues in this election?
The Constitution of the country is under threat. In the last 68 years, nothing was done beyond the boundaries specified by the Constitution. The government says that everything is being done according to the Constitution but we see people belonging to the ruling party every day trying to divide the country on the basis of either religion or caste or superstitious practices through their campaigns. It is hurting the country.
You speak of how the ruling party is trying to divide the country on the basis of religion. But don’t you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to be inclusive? Recently, he visited a mosque in the United Arab Emirates and then in his Independence Day address he spoke of how communalism is a threat…
There is a difference between what you say and what you do. Politics is also about your actions. Till the time he [Modi] doesn’t set his partymen right, how can one believe that he actually means what he says? The MLAs, MPs, ministers belonging to the BJP say all kinds of divisive things. Then you have organisations like the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad] who also say things which are a threat to peace in the country.
Is the alliance of the Janata Dal (U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress going to be helpful?
This alliance is a result of the lessons of the last elections. The Janata Dal used to be the second-largest party at one time, before the division. Even in Bihar it got divided between the RJD and the JD(U). This division is one of the biggest reasons for our loss in the elections. To end the division means consolidating the masses. This is the purpose of this alliance.
The RJD and JD(U) were fighting each other in the state. Don’t you think the party workers will have a problem working together?
It’s not a new thing to happen in the politics of this country. What happened in 1989, or when HD Deve Gowda became the PM? Such things have happened in the past. The challenge is bigger. If you don’t have the land in your hands, how will you do farming? The Constitution is under serious threat. When Emergency was imposed, didn’t we all come together to safeguard the Constitution? There is an unwritten understanding to attack the Constitution. This alliance is to prevent that. The present condition of the Congress party is not because of the BJP. We have fought. People like Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Chaudhary Charan Singh have fought. We were divided. Our infrastructure became weak. We could create the atmosphere against the Congress, but we didn’t have the network or the machinery to consolidate things in our favour so it worked in the BJP’s favour. We were the first ones to point out the 2G scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, the coal block allocation scam. We were the ones who were keeping the non-BJP Opposition together. But this divided Opposition couldn’t gain anything and it was the BJP which used it. So, to correct that mistake, we have come together.
Are there any seat-sharing problems between the parties?
Nothing is perfect. But it was done in the best possible way.
How do you view reports of Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) entering the fray in Bihar?
Minorities everywhere are very alert and the way they act politically nobody else can. The minorities don’t need any political leader to tell them anything. They act according to the environment they are living in.
There was a belief that polarisation of the electorate on communal lines helped the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections last year. There are reports of a similar polarisation in Bihar. How will it affect the electoral outcome?
Not just in the last elections, the BJP has been doing it for the past many years. In the last elections, they took advantage of the vacuum which was created because of the miserable performance of the Congress and divisions in the Janata Dal. They won’t be able to run Delhi. You can’t run Delhi with extremist steps. They will ultimately fail. They are always engaged in polarisation. But one must not forget that they got just 31 per cent of the vote and the scattered Opposition got the rest of the 69 per cent. Two-thirds of the population of this country doesn’t agree with the BJP’s brand of politics.
Will Jitan Ram Manjhi’s exit and his entry into the BJP damage this alliance?
Manjhi is not a leader. He was cosmetically built up as one and such people can’t govern. We made him the Chief Minister, thinking he would run the government properly.
There has been a vacuum due to the rout of the Congress in the Lok Sabha. Do you think a united Janata Dal can fill this vacuum?
Right now there are only discussions around it. We met four-five times and everyone said, “Let’s wait for the Bihar elections to get over.” So let us see.
What do you think of the Communist parties which seem to be losing ground?
I don’t think they are going to get finished. Every party which was in the Opposition, barring the Trinamool Congress, the AIADMK and the BJP, has become weak. So why single out the Communists? I don’t think it is a judicious way of looking at things.
The Modi campaign seemed to be centred around one man and that seemed to work…
No. Like I said earlier, the BJP filled in the vacuum created by a scattered Janata Dal and a miserable Congress. Modi had the machinery to fill that space. Had it been anyone other than Modi, he or she could also have succeeded. The people of this country still long for a king or queen. That is the mentality. They may say that they are against this politics around an individual but at the end of the day, politics in this country has been centred around individuals. Modi is the creation of the situation that arose in the run-up to the elections. Also, it wasn’t because of the campaign. It was the sheer wealth and resources at their disposal. All the moneybags of the country are with them. Now they are in the government. Look at the kind of money they are spending at the rallies. Find it out.
Can elections be won only with money?
No. How am I winning for the last more than 40 years? I am not a rich politician, I am a beggar. So don’t get swayed by this display of resources.