Bhupendra Yadav, BJP’s national general secretary and the party in-charge for Bihar clearly stated that Nitish Kumar is the Chief Ministerial face of NDA in Bihar and the campaign in the State is based on development work done under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an exclusive interview with Organiser Senior Correspondent Nishant Kr Azad at Patna, Bhupendra Yadav said that the rumours about the post-poll alliance with Lok Janshakti Party is baseless and a conspiracy by Opposition to confuse the voters. Excerpts:
What are the issues on which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest in the Bihar Assembly elections 2020?
BJP will fight the election on the developmental issue. The NDA regime is ruling Bihar since the last fifteen years under the leadership of Shri Nitish Kumar. In the previous 15 years in the State, development has taken place in almost every sector. The NDA Government has done a lot of work on issues of roads, electricity and water. Prime Minister Modi has launched fisheries and animal husbandry projects worth more than Rs 20,000 crore in Bihar. Urban infrastructure projects worth Rs 541 crore have been launched.
In the current crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, the State witnessed a large influx of migrant labourers, for whom the State Government took adequate relief measures. For migrant workers, Prime Minister Modi has extended the distribution of free ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Chhath Puja in November.
Under the Guidance of Prime Minister Modi, we have also worked on various schemes targeted towards economic inclusion due to which the State has witnessed progressive growth. The number of medical colleges in the State has increased, power supply and roads have reached to all the villages and thus new opportunities have emerged in Bihar. And we are committed to make this progress which is the key to make the “Atmanirbhar Bihar”.
The relentless development work will continue in Bihar under the vision of PM Modi and Chief Ministership of Nitish Kumar.
Despite all the development works, there seems to be an anti-incumbency factor working against the government, especially against Nitish Kumar. In such a scenario, what are the future prospects for the NDA coalition in Bihar?
NDA will form the government in Bihar with the 3/4th majority.
It is being said that the Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) decision to fight alone in Bihar is some sort of Plan B for the BJP? What do you say?
These are only wild speculations, with no iota of logical reasoning. These are rumours being spread by the Opposition as a part of political conspiracy to confuse the voters. But the voters are smart enough to see through the ploy.
BJP along with Janata Dal (United) as part of the NDA coalition will form the government in Bihar with an absolute majority, of which now Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) too is a member.
I am spelling it out again. We are fighting the election in alliance with JD (U) and have mutually agreed upon seat-sharing deal with them. The NDA is fighting for development in Bihar under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and vision, with Nitish Kumar as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the alliance and it will win an absolute majority in the coming Bihar Vidhan Sabha polls.
There is talk that many BJP leaders, desirous of fighting polls on seats now given to JD(U) in the seat adjustment will be fighting on an LJP ticket. BJP’s vice-president Rajendra Singh is also contesting on LJP ticket. What will be the attitude of the party to deal with such candidates?
It’s unfortunate for them. Those who are deserting the party for election tickets must remember that we are a party committed to the ideology of nationalism and discipline. Such activities have happened in the past as well. Anyone who has left the BJP to fight an election on the ticket of any other party, including LJP, is to be considered as a person ousted from the BJP.
Earlier VIP was part of the Mahagathbandhan. After the party denied seats there, they joined NDA and are now promised 11 seats and along with that one MLC seat too. Isn’t it too much offered to a new political party like VIP?
First of all, VIP is not a new political party; it is working for the last six years on various social issues at the grassroot level. In Bihar, the social equations are very crucial. The Mahagathbandhan was formed consisted of Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Mukesh Sahni’s VIP which is a party of socially vulnerable communities and also Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). This so-called Mahagathbandhan first forced HAM to leave, then they back-stabbed Mukesh Sahni, forcing them out of the coalition. Upendra Kushwaha who initially decided to be part of Mahagathbandhan, also declared that his party will not fight election with the grand alliance.
So the Mahagathbandhan is signalling that it has no place for backwards, Mahadalits and tribals; instead, they have made an agreement with Ultra Maoist organisation CPM. This strategy proves that both the Congress and RJD support the anti-national Tukde Tukde gang. The only binding force between the RJD and Congress is a hunger for power now.
On the other hand, the economically and socially weaker section of the society wants to progress by supporting the nationalist cause and we are facilitating them to connect with the mainstream in this election.
Although BJP is a strong political party in Bihar with a good grassroots network, why does BJP doesn’t contest elections on its own in the State?
In the current political scenario of Bihar, BJP is honouring the terms of coalition alliance. Also, we are working relentlessly on strengthening our base on the ground across all regions of Bihar. In 243 Assembly areas, we have a strong booth network. Yet, we will be fighting the elections as part of the NDA coalition along with JDU under the leadership of Shri Nitish Kumar.
This is the first election to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and there are worries that a section of voters may not turn up to the booths. In this scenario, what will be the strategy of BJP to encourage voters to come to the polling stations?
BJP has started Gramin Sampark Abhiyan to connect with the voters on this issue, under which the State leaders are communicating with the people in almost 3100 Gram Panchayats of the State. I believe this to be one of the most effective communication campaigns ever done by the BJP in the State, and we hope that our supporters will come in large numbers to support us by casting their votes.
More people-connect programmes will be undertaken because there is no doubt that there is a pandemic, but the process of democracy must not be weakened.
Employment has always been a major issue. The Opposition is raising the issue of unemployment in the State very vocally to target the government. What do you have to say about this?
Whenever we are talking about employment in any State, we have to first identify the criteria of development. Once it gets identified, the progress of the region receives pace. For instance, if the power supply comes to a village, it can help in developing cold storage in the village which can enable the local farmers to start the food processing business. In this way, we are trying to facilitate the people of the State to empower themselves. And the situation which today prevails in Bihar definitely has the potential to generate more employment opportunities in the State.
Liquor ban was one of the major issues in the previous Assembly elections. Despite the legal prohibition on liquor production and consumption, a parallel economy based on the illegal business of liquor mushroomed in the State. If the government is aware of the source of the business, why does it not take strict action against that?
No, this is not true. If you have observed, in Bihar after the liquor ban, the usage of milk and other healthy products has increased in the State. In a State where a large number of the population comprises of migrant labourers, if they waste their hard-earned money by consuming liquor, it’s a regressive trait for the society of the region and the economy. The vision of empowering Bihar which we have envisioned has an important place for the empowerment of women too, in which liquor prohibition will play a major role. Thus, the liquor ban is a revolutionary step by the Government of Bihar aimed at social development. Yes, some people are engaged in the illegal trade of liquor, on which we are doing investigation and trying to resolve the issue. We must remember that liquor prohibition is not just a government campaign; it’s a social movement which will require cooperation from every section of the society.
RJD has made a serious allegation that your government has wholly failed in delivering governance. How do you react to this?
When RJD got the opportunity to deliver good governance, they failed. The irony is, the party, that has done nothing for governing the State and was unable to deliver on any front, is now blaming us for bad governance.
How will the death of veteran leader Late Ram Vilas Paswan affect the election scenario in Bihar? Will it harm NDA?
Ram Vilas Paswanji was a great political personality, and his passing away is sad news for us.