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Patna, July 2 (IANS) With less than two years to go before the Lok Sabha elections, IANS spoke to veteran politician Shivananda Tiwari, vice-president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), to get an insight into the party’s preparations against the BJP and the JD-U in Bihar.
Excerpts from the interview:
In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections
Shivananda Tiwari: There is no doubt that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are the first target for the BJP and Narendra Modi. According to him, they are doing all the political maneuvers of the country. You have seen two very important by-elections in Azamgarh and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh which were the strongholds of Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan respectively and the BJP has won both the seats.
Azamgarh is considered to be the traditional seat of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav. Both father and son have been elected MPs from Azamgarh. Similarly, the Rampur seat is a stronghold of Azam Khan. People in the area say Azam Khan has the power to win elections even from prison. Despite all this, the BJP has won both the seats. So it is clearly visible that there are challenges for the anti-BJP forces in Uttar Pradesh.
In terms of Bihar
Shivananda Tiwari: As far as Bihar is concerned, there are three political forces, RJD, JD-U and BJP and they have all contested the elections in the state individually. The message of that election clearly indicates that if two parties come together in any election, they will come to power. Now, the JD-U and BJP are on one side and the third party is led by RJD and it has good support from the left parties. Now, the strength of RJD has increased after 4 out of 5 MLAs of AIMIM joined our party.
We have always claimed that RJD is a party of A to Z but when we analyze our core voters, the result is that Muslim and Yadav (MY) are our core voters. It is also a fact that the government will not be formed by the votes of Muslims and Yadavs alone unless we extend our reach to other nations and communities. Tejaswi Yadav also understood this so he has always claimed that RJD is A to Z team.
Advantages of Tejasvi Yadav:
Shivananda Tiwari: During elections, BJP and other party leaders have always raised the issue of Jungle Raj under Lalu Prasad Yadav. No more problems BJP and others have to target RJD. Now Lalu Prasad is not the leader of the party. He is a father figure but the team is led by Tejaswi Yadav. The last assembly election was contested under the leadership of Tejaswi Yadav and he performed well and RJD has become the single largest party in the state with 75 seats.
Tejaswi Yadav did not have any luggage and the leaders of the saffron party did not mention his name. The acceptance of Tejswi Yadav in the society is increasing and it depends on him to work hard in all the areas where the party has lost elections or has performed less.
How strong has the RJD been in the border areas since the 4 MLAs of AIMIM joined it?
Shivananda Tiwari: When someone leaves a particular party, its leaders always claim that the party will not be affected by his departure. But that is always political dialogue. The party actually suffers when someone leaves. I firmly believe that any leader joining the team will reap the benefits. There are 4 MLAs joining the team so it is very beneficial for us.
They are sitting MLAs and anti-power elements always apply against them in every election. So, we always see 50% of new faces win elections. Now, we have 4 MLAs from the border areas. They are our strength and on that basis we need to strengthen our position in this region.
Defeating JD-U and BJP is a challenge for RJD:
Shivananda Tiwari: “Expanding the reach of the party is the key to RJD here. It has key voters between Muslims and Yadavs but its expansion is the most important aspect. If we analyze, Kurmi voters will not come with you and a large part will not be. The lower castes, whom we call ABC voters, also support Nitish Kumar because he has saved in the panchayat and women candidates get 50% reservation. Nitish Kumar has also given 33% reservation to women in jobs.
The biggest weakness of the Nitish Kumar government is bureaucracy and corruption. Ordinary people are being harassed by the officials in every department. Those who used to work for Rs 200 to Rs 400 are now paying Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000. The biggest thing is, there is no one to listen to them. Suppose you (Nitish Kumar) make a reservation on ABC but when they go to a department, they usually face insults and eventually go home without finishing their work.
Who is responsible for religious extremism in the country and how it will affect elections:
Shivananda Tiwari: It is very unfortunate that the government in Delhi has taken oath in the constitution and Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister of the country. Without democracy, a tea seller would not be the Chief Minister and he cannot think of becoming the Prime Minister. Democracy puts a tea seller in the chair of the Prime Minister.
Now his goal should be to protect democracy and solve problems wherever they are. Our constitution speaks of equality in society, which this government is violating and dividing society on the basis of religion. In fact, the BJP came from the RSS. It was formerly known as Jan Sangha and in 1980 became the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
For the first time, BJP leaders remember the definition of Hindutva given by Bir Savarkar in 1923. According to the definition of Hinduism, Savarkar explained that the number one citizen is those who have motherland, fatherland and place of worship (religious abode) in the country. Now, we need to understand that there are two religious places of worship outside the country (Muslims have Mecca and Medina and Christians have Vatican City). So from the beginning they have been the target of RSS. When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he mentioned 1200 years of slavery in the country. He did not speak of 200 years of British slavery. Now they are targeting the Muslim community.
Now they are publicly making statements about the killing of Muslims. More worryingly, the Prime Minister is silent on the matter. His silence on this matter means you are supporting them. That is why the ruling party is encouraging extremism in the country. If there is tension in the society, it never improves.
There is no relevance to other issues like inflation, unemployment.
Shivananda Tiwari: The Narendra Modi government has forced the people so much that they are not thinking about inflation and inflation. Even though the price of fuel has gone above Rs 100, people are suffering in the name of the country. This government has forced people to believe that the country is safe without Narendra Modi.
Without Narendra Modi, there are question marks about the country. If I think, Dev Kant was a leader in the time of Indira Gandhi who coined the slogan “Indira is India and India is Indira”.
They (BJP leaders) believe that Narendra Modi is a man who was born to build the country. The idea has been created in the country that if the common man can be harmed in the name of Narendra Modi, then they are ready for it whatever the cause of inflation, inflation, unemployment, corruption and other reasons. They run twenty-four hours of propaganda, make false videos to drive things, and the psychological effects of it are remembered by ordinary people. Unfortunately, opposition parties are failing to resist.
AJK / BG