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The Rediff Interview/Nitish Kumar
Neither proud nor afraid: Nitish
November 23, 2005
Nitish Kumar is a man of few words.
But at 4 pm Tuesday, hours after his Janata Dal (United) –BJP combine won a majority in Bihar, effectively making him the new chief minister, he spoke at length with a few senior journalists. Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt captures the quietly jubilant mood of a man who is as different from his predecessor Laloo Prasad Yadav as chalk is from cheese.
On his success
I am neither proud nor afraid of my success. I have to face the challenges that have come up before me. My challenge is a difficult one. When people give a mandate one should humbly accept it. I will not resort to politics of confrontation. I will just work. In the last four months of campaigning my assessment was that people have understood that injustice was meted out to us when we were not allowed to form the government. During my Nyaya yatra I talked about injustices. Along with sense of injustice people thought, "let's them give one chance." We have won due to the positive vote of the people.
On poll alliances
People have been greatly disillusioned with the old rulers. We have huge support to form a new government. People have given a clear verdict and that's my political strength. Second thing is that the alliance of Janata Dal-United and Bhartiya Janta Party is perfectly in order. Both us have worked together, campaigned together. In Bihar the basic infrastructure has collapsed. There is nothing in name of law and order. People's desire for governance is tremendous. We believe that this vote was for change. At same time, the people's expectations are quite high from us. They trusted us because they think we can govern. This is a vote for governance. And I'll govern well. While everything would have been in order and I that circumstances if I would have got an opportunity then I would be walking on the beaten track. But now, I will have to carve my own way. (rah bhi banana padega.)
On ties with the Centre
I want co-operation with Centre. Today Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telephoned me and congratulated me, and assured me of all cooperation. I asked for his co-operation. I am not talking of any internal possible changes within UPA due to Bihar election. But I think as far as UPA has majority in Lok Sabha I don't see any trouble at Centre.
On the post of Deputy chief minister
I am not aware of any such proposal. I would not like to comment on it.
On his priorities
My attention goes first to matter of law and order. My government must survive well; I need to handle security well. Second I need to replace social confrontation with social harmony. There will be attempts to create divisions in the society. We will take support of all sections and will try to maintain peace. My third priority will be development. It has two parts that deserves attention. One is the development of basic infrastructure and other part is the proper implementation of existing developmental schemes.
On Most Backward Classes
When I was campaigning I could see the strong reaction amongst the most backward classes. Laloo was claiming that MBC are with him. But during my Nyaya yatra I could see the clear slant. Such a huge mandate is not possible without the support of MBC. I am neither feeling happy nor overconfident. It has taken 11 and half years of struggle to reach here.
On Laloo Yadav
When he became Railway minister I telephoned him because he was succeeding me. So far I haven't received his courtesy call. Let Laloo say that I'll face difficulties in three months time. He need not worry. I am requesting him to focus on the Railway ministry. He should restart all the Railway projects of Bihar, which are abandoned. Laloo will say something negative today. After all he has not got the mandate to rule. Even I am from a poor family. We had expectations from Laloo for the past 15 years. Fifteen years ago, Laloo didn't have support of the majority members of Janata Dal. It was only with help of Bharatiya Janta Party that he could become Chief Minister for the first time. At that time he didn't have people's mandate to become CM. A leader should accept defeat and victory with humility.
On being a mask of reactionary forces like BJP
People who hurl such allegations against me are themselves reactionary!
On Ram Vilas Paswan
No comments. I wish him well. Before the first election in February 2005 we were ready to surrender everything to him. He rejected our offer. Even after the first election his behaviour was not practical. I haven't said a word about him during the election nor I'll speak against him now.
On the Bihar police
Bihar police was misused quite often. It was not allowed to handle work of policing. Police was not allowed to function under the powers assigned to it under Criminal procedure code. Higher authority decided who would be named in the First Information Report. Policemen who wanted to work properly were not allowed to function. I am not going to give free hand to indulge in human rights violations, but I shall allow them to do policing. At present there is no new recruitment. Armed forces are not getting new people. The system of shifting of forces from civil to armed has collapsed. The chain of command is broken. Everything is breaking up. The police force was not used properly. It was always misused. They were asked to arrest people, trap people. I will modernize Bihar police and start fresh recruitments. Bureaucracy in Bihar normally avoids taking decisions. They normally delay taking decisions. They are afraid too.
On the Election Commission
The role of election commission was fair. The atmosphere was free and the election was conducted maintaining impartiality. The Commission implemented the Constitutional responsibility in letter and spirit.
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