In Bihar, 2020 is considered very different from 2015, especially in the Grand Alliance camp. JDU, which was the most important component of the Grand Alliance in 2015, was separated almost three years ago, and many smaller parties have decided to separate from it at the time of elections. A third front has also been formed. Moreover, Lalu Yadav will also stay away from this election due to being in jail. NBT National Bureau special correspondent Rajesh Chaudhary spoke to RJD senior leader Shivanand Tiwari on all these equations. Here are the highlights of the conversation:
Question: Nominations have already been done for the first phase of Bihar elections, are you seeing the scenario?
Shivanand Tiwari: At first glance, a picture of scattering appears. Upendra Kushwaha has formed the third front, Mayawati has also joined it and Owaisi too. Pappu Yadav is also fighting by forming his own front. But from a broader perspective, the main contest is between the NDA and the Grand Alliance.
Question: Do you think that Tejashwi Yadav will be able to counter the political stature of Nitish Kumar?
Shivanand Tiwari: Talking about political experience and age, there is definitely a difference between the two. Nitish Kumar’s political journey is around 45 years and Tejashwi Yadav has not even reached the full age of 45 years. But this does not mean that we reject the potential of youth. When Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, he was very young. Chirag Paswan is also young. Let us not forget that the political base of Tejashwi Yadav is tremendous, which he has inherited. He is the political successor of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Question: Tejashwi’s biggest responsibility was to keep the Grand Alliance united, did he not fail in it? Jitanram Manjhi, Kushwaha, Sahani all split up…
Shivanand Tiwari: It was a big responsibility to keep the Grand Alliance united and those who broke up should not have been. In the last Lok Sabha election, Kushwaha’s party was given five seats and Manjhi’s party three seats. They should not have been given so many seats. In the same proportion of the seats which were given in the Lok Sabha elections, these leaders also started demanding seats in the assembly. Mukesh Sahni wanted the post of deputy CM. This was the reason that they could not talk to these people and they separated. But the Left parties remain part of the Grand Alliance.
Question: A new secular front has been formed under the leadership of Upendra Kushwaha, what will be the effect on the election?
Shivanand Tiwari: The third front led by Upendra Kushwaha will have no effect as there is no vote base for this front. When there is no base of any caste and community, then that front will not matter. The NDA and the Grand Alliance have their own vote base. The BSP and Owaisi have parties with Kushwaha in the Third Front. The parties with the Grand Alliance have a solid vote base. Left parties are also there. In such a situation, there is not going to be a split of votes. The impact of the Third Front will be limited.
Question: It is said that the senior leaders of RJD are not happy with Tejashwi, they are not getting the importance they expect. How much truth is there in this?
Shivanand Tiwari: Why should we expect now that Tejashwi Yadav walks according to our wish and mind? It cannot be right to expect such. There is a difference in age and the generation gap has to be understood. 65 per cent of the people in Bihar are young and Tejashwi Yadav is a youth, representing the youth. Senior leaders are not unhappy in this.
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Question: Is it not true that Raghuvansh Prasad Singh went through this agony?
Shivanand Tiwari: We have made a mistake here. There could have been some other way that needed to be considered. If Rama Singh was opposed, then there was a need to convince him. Big brother could be blessed. But this could not happen. In this case, there has been some lapse in management. If Lalu Yadav was not in jail, such a situation would not have happened. Lalu Yadav wrote a letter from the prison to Raghuvansh Babu.
Question: Is Tejashwi’s elder brother Tej Pratap an asset to the party or trouble? His wife, his brother-in-law are also against RJD, it will have some effect. Tej Pratap has to change his seat…
Shivanand Tiwari: I do not want to go into these things. I do not think it appropriate to answer this question.
Question: What difference do you see in 2020 compared to the 2015 election?
Shivanand Tiwari: Then JDU and RJD contested the elections and the grand alliance vote was increased. No anti-incumbency factor was even working then but five years have passed and things have changed. Presently, the anti-incumbency factor is working in Bihar. Also, unlike last election, this time Nitish’s and RJD party are face to face.