When people see JD(U) and BJP cadre working together, it sets the mind at rest, says BJP’s poll in-charge for Bihar
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, currently the BJP’s Bihar poll in-charge, was confident of the NDA’s prospects and stressed that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the leader of the alliance in the State.
You must be getting a feeling of deja vu, since through the Maharashtra polls and after, you have dealt with alliance issues with Janata Dal (U) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
It’s not exactly deja vu as there is a huge difference between our alliance here and the one we had in Maharashtra. In Maharashtra there was always a hostility; for five years they (Shiv Sena) were with us but since the municipal corporation elections, they had already declared they would not want to continue the alliance. But we came together in the Lok Sabha polls. Even when with us they (Sena) behaved like an opposition party within the government.
That is not the case in Bihar. We may have separated in 2013, but when we came back together in 2017, there was absolutely coherent synergy. I have been involved in seat negotiations in the last few weeks, and the way the conversations took place here were very different from that with Shiv Sena, in tone and tenor. The co-ordination here was much better far more convivial.
There have been many strongly worded statements from the BJP on Nitish Kumar being the leader of the NDA in Bihar in the last few days. Have you been able to convince your voters and also your ally?
As of now, they (JD-U) are convinced that this alliance is coherent. I don’t see any doubt in their minds. We are holding joint sabhas and meetings with leaders from both our parties on the dais. Ultimately, the narrative is set on the ground level, and when people see that the foot soldiers of JD(U) and the BJP are working together, it sets the mind at rest.
What is your opinion of Mr Chirag Paswan?
We have lots of respect for Ram Vilasji (late leader Ram Vilas Paswan) and I wish young Chirag well. I cannot wish that he is a victor in these elections as ultimately he is not fighting as part of our coalition. I think that his position, which he took, was incorrect. When you say you are part of NDA at the Centre, you cannot say that you will disregard (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji. In the same way in Bihar, if you are part of NDA you cannot disregard Nitish Kumar. Undoubted the leader of NDA in Bihar is Nitishji.
If all of you have this opinion, then it raises a question mark on Mr. Paswan’s continuance in the NDA even at the Centre.
We haven’t thought of it yet. In politics you cannot predict what may happen in the future.
A very painful thread of events has been the situation with regard to inter-State workers during the lockdown. There was a lot of hurt feeling among these workers at what they felt was abandonment by their home State. How do you view the issue?
Initially, there were problems of transportation, but once that was sorted out, the government here, with its experience of running relief camps due to seasonal flooding, very soon created camps for these inter-State workers, and arranged money in their accounts and daily expenses. Once it started, people seemed ok with it, I don’t see any anti-incumbency due to that.
What will be the main thrust of your campaign?
It can be summed up in one word, bharosa (faith). People have faith in Modi ji; we are going forward on that. Also Nitish ji has been at the helm of affairs for 15 years and his image is clean which is not a very common occurrence and it matters to the voter.