Interview: Tejashwi Yadav

‘Our campaign is touching people’s hearts and minds’: Tejashwi Yadav

Print edition : November 20, 2020

Tejashwi Yadav , at the ‘Naukari Sanvad’ held at the RJD office, in Patna on October 27. Photo: PTI

Interview with Tejashwi Yadav, RJD leader.

Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial candidate of the Mahagathbandhan, or grand alliance, of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and three Left parties is by far the most active campaigner in the 2020 Bihar Assembly election scene. On October 26, the day on which the campaign for the first phase of polling ended, the 31-year-old RJD leader had travelled across the State in a helicopter to address 13 rallies. In comparison, his principal political opponent, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addressed just three rallies on that day. With such a punishing schedule, Tejashwi Yadav could not spare time for a detailed interview at one stretch. This phone conversation was made in bits and pieces over a couple of days. Excerpts:

When you entered the political arena, your father and RJD founder Lalu Prasad was close at hand to guide you. This time, however, you are the leader of the Mahaghathbandhan’s campaign as the grand alliance’s chief ministerial candidate. How does it feel to step into the role that your father had played for several years?

Indeed, it is a huge responsibility. But everything is dependent on the circumstances. This responsibility has come to me because of the circumstances in Bihar. But there can be no comparison between me and my father. As you are aware, he is one of the greatest legends of Bihar, a leader who lifted lakhs of lives from penury and marginalisation to a life of dignity and honour.

However, there is a stream of opinion that you are charting a different political path, moving away from Laluji’s social justice platform to a more general development agenda. There is also the propaganda that you have not given space to him and your mother and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi in the election campaign material.

I do not have to tell you about the Goebbelsian false propaganda tricks of the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance. They have proved their capability for this throughout their political history. Development was, is and will continue to be a key component of all social justice struggles and initiatives of the RJD. Laluji himself advanced this political thought and we are following that. Employment, equity, food and education for all are all central to the idea of social justice and political systems; whether they are parties or governments, they have to follow that. That is exactly what the Mahaghathbandhan is doing in this election campaign.
Also read: Tejashwi Yadav on the RJD's 2020 campaign

How did you arrive at the campaign plank of employment generation? There are those who think that you came up with it after some hi-tech research.

We do not need hi-tech research to identify people’s issues and problems. We are constantly connected to the people and we know their lives closely. When COVID-19 happened and the migrant labourers started making their panic-driven return to the villages, it was a clear manifestation of Bihar’s desperate need for a massive employment generation drive. Those who sealed the State’s borders when the poor and downtrodden tried to come back to their homes will not understand such essential livelihood concerns. The RJD and the Mahaghathbandhan are committed to the people. That is how we realised the economic distress writ large on Bihar with farmers, youth and businessmen struggling to provide food for their families and somehow make a living. The BJP leaders used to roam around wearing garlands of onions when there was a price rise. Many of them protested about the onion prices being Rs.50 a kilogram. Now when onions are sold for Rs.80 a kg, they are keeping quiet, trying to hide the colossal failures of their governments [in the State and at the Centre].

How do you view the election scene? What is your assessment on the impact of your campaign?

It is evident that people are fed up of the moribund leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the communal games that the BJP plays to cover up its failed governance. Our campaign has only picked up the voices of the people and its impact is evident. It is touching the people’s hearts and minds.

If the elections throw up a hung Assembly, will you be open to an alliance with parties, such as the Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party?

I do not think there will be any requirement for post-poll alliances. The Mahaghathbandhan is coming to power on its own.
Also read: Lessons from the Bihar Assembly Elections

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