Grand alliance failed against Indira Gandhi in 1971, it will fail against Narendra Modi in 2019: Sushil Modi
Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi said, “There was a grand alliance against Indira Gandhi in 1971, but it did not succeed. I believe ’71 will be repeated in 2019.”
Bihar’s deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), spoke to Kumar Uttam about the perception of a decline in governance standards in the state, the BJP’s balancing act between different caste groups, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) challenge, and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Excerpts:
There is a perception that governance has taken a hit in Bihar in recent years. Is this true?
The blackboard was blank when we came to power for the first time. There was no governance. Even a small achievement looked big. Now people don’t compare this government with Lalu Prasad’s. They compare us with our first tenure. The perception problem is because of this. The image of the government got affected because of incidents such as the shelter home scandal and the topper scam. But people know the government is not involved, and there is not a single case where an accused has been protected. Governance was affected during the four years when the BJP was out of power. Now, it is getting back on the track. The BJP and the JD(U) (Janata Dal-United) are natural allies.The Lalu-Nitish alliance was unnatural, and died naturally.
Why has Bihar lagged on the industrialisation front?
It was always a challenge in Bihar because of land. The state has the highest population density in India and land holdings are small. Law and order, electricity or incentives were not the problem. Land will always remain a challenge in Bihar. We are promoting agro-based industry.
Has prohibition added to your governance woes?
No, there is a huge positive impact of prohibition. No government in future can afford to roll it back. Any government that will dare to reverse the decision will have to go. There is revenue loss, but crime has dropped. Women are happy. A marriage procession, which earlier used to take four hours, is now over in 45 minutes. We have an open border with other states. We will have to remain vigilant.
Is there a challenge for the government on the job-creation front?
The impression about jobs is about getting a government job. They are limited. No country can absorb everyone in government. If you provide jobs to 70 people, there will be 30 others who will be left out. The way this government has taken up skill development programmes and self-employment promotion has never happened before. Job opportunities have increased over the last few years.
An effort is being made by the Opposition to cobble up a grand alliance. How will it impact the 2019 elections?
The grand alliance crumbled in Bihar after Nitish Kumar joined us. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 65% votes and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led alliance has just 35%. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have weaved a perfect social equation. The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) account for 70% of population. They were not our traditional supporters, but they voted for Modi in 2014 and subsequent elections. The steps taken by Modi have benefitted this segment. The next fight is going to be, ‘Modi versus who?’ There was a grand alliance against Indira Gandhi in 1971, but it did not succeed. I believe ’71 will be repeated in 2019.
Do you see Tejashwi Yadav emerging as a challenge for the NDA in Bihar?
Tej Pratap Yadav (Lalu’s elder son) is emerging as a more powerful leader than Tejashwi (younger son). The way Tej Pratap talks and makes a speech, he gets more applause than his brother. Tej Pratap is the natural political heir to Lalu Prasad. Tejashwi Yadav is embroiled in several cases. The family feud you saw in Mulayam Singh Yadav family in Uttar Pradesh, it is happening in Bihar too. A fight is bound to happen between the children of Lalu Prasad.
While the BJP has got support from new segments, there is a fear that its traditional voters might drift away because of the government’s decision to restore provisions of the SC/ST act.
Cognisance should be taken about the concerns and confusion among the upper castes. The SC/ST act is the mask -- the real issue is reservation. The upper castes feel it is eating into their job opportunities. Can the Congress say that it is against the SC/ST act?
Has the BJP’s political expansion scared its allies?
Chandrababu Naidu left the NDA because of local compulsions. Why would Nitish join us if allies had problem with the BJP? Some join, and some leave. It is a natural phenomenon. Some people also left the NDA during Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s government. Some of them returned.
Is seat sharing among NDA allies going to be a problem in Bihar?
The JD(U) has said the discussion is going on in an amicable environment and it will be concluded soon.
First Published: Sep 12, 2018 07:20:08