'You won't find such an apathetic indecisive party in the world.'
K C Tyagi, national general secretary and national spokesperson for the Janata Dal-United and a former member of Parliament, tells Archis Mohan that the Congress has lost the will to rule.
The Congress and others have accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of betraying the mandate of the 2015 Bihar assembly polls by joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The people's verdict was undoubtedly for a five-year chief ministerial term for Nitish Kumar.
It was a positive mandate for the good governance that Kumar has given to Bihar.
People had negated the BJP and sent out a message that in Bihar there was no one to compare with Kumar.
The verdict was consistent with the 2009 and 2010 results of Kumar's anti-corruption campaign.
In the 2015 assembly polls, Kumar took that campaign forward where good governance and an end to corruption were the key issues.
In 2009, three ministers, including one from the BJP, were sacked midway through the elections when corruption charges surfaced against them.
So, Kumar has a different mettle.
He has followed in the footsteps of the stalwarts of the Socialist movement who did their politics with honesty and had frugal lifestyles.
Is it the end of the Socialist movement in India or could it spark a new beginning?
The Socialist movement is on the decline. Its glory days are over.
There is no Ram Manohar Lohia, Acharya Narendra Dev, Jayaprakash Narayan or even a George Fernandes.
Kumar is the last practising Socialist of that ideological stream. However, there is immense hope from him.
It gives us pride when Kumar is rated the best chief minister in the country, and we consider it a tribute to the Socialist movement as well.
During your alliance with the BJP from 1996 to 2013, you differed with the party on core and contentious issues such as Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and Ram Janmabhoomi.
Would you take a stand as vociferously now on these issues?
During Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 13-day government, Fernandes and Kumar had an agreement with Atalji on good governance.
It was agreed that these contentious issues would not be raised -- that the court's order would be complied with in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi, views would not be imposed on the question of the Uniform Civil Code and Article 370 would become a source of strength.
But now the fringe elements are determining the narrative.
The so-called cow vigilantes are causing social tensions. We have opposed this and will continue to raise our voice against such fringe elements.
We had never in the past compromised on core issues of not just the Socialist movement, but the larger secular movement as well, and will not in the future, too.
BIHAR'S POLITICAL DRAMA
Could the Kumar-led JD-U joining the National Democratic Alliance lead to plurality in the alliance, the kind of democratisation that existed during the years of Vajpayee and L K Advani?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi would need to take the initiative on this.
He would need to show inter-personal skills, behaviour and generosity of spirit that characterised Atalji.
This could help the NDA get more broad-based, comprehensive and attract more sections of society.
To this day, the youth in Kashmir feel excited at the mention of Vajpayee.
Yes, we want the Atal formula for Kashmir where he spoke of insaniyat (humanity), jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat.
Kashmir burns today. There is a need for a broad-based outlook there as well.
There are social tensions and aspirations of the deprived and marginalised sections of society for a greater stake in power.
We need to respond constructively to their struggle for socio-economic political empowerment.
I was happy that the Presidential candidates of both the NDA as well as the Opposition were Dalits.
Congress leaders have said Kumar left because his prime ministerial ambitions would have remained unfulfilled in the Grand Alliance.
Kumar's grandmother or great grandfather were not prime ministers. He was born to a common man, who had been a freedom fighter.
We are commoners and are not entitled to have such dreams. Only a certain class of people can have such dreams.
Kumar had categorically said that with two Lok Sabha seats he cannot expect to be the PM.
The Congress can now accuse us of anything, but we had been of the firm view that it was the bigger party and should take the initiative.
But you won't find such an apathetic indecisive party in the whole wide world.
This party has lost the will to rule.
Any party that aligns with the Congress would be debilitated and die.
It has been said the JD-U is back with the BJP as the move to ban liquor hurt revenue and the state government is in dire need of central funds.
Mahatma Gandhi advocated prohibition. Its legacy lies in India's struggle for freedom.
Gujarat was the first state to enforce a ban on liquor. Do not reduce it to something to do with revenue, or the loss of it.
In Bihar, on average Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) worth of liquor was consumed annually, which brought Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 30 billion to Rs 40 billion) revenue.
Yes, we have suffered the loss of that revenue, but in the process socially marginalised sections of society have saved Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion), which is now being used to improve their standard of living and is being spent on education, health and other daily needs.
Incidence of domestic violence has reduced by 38 per cent. We are ignoring this aspect.
The political parties opposing Kumar today are also the very parties that opposed prohibition.
I want to say it on record that a big leader of our erstwhile Grand Alliance pressured Kumar to change his liquor ban decision.
Now that the JD-U is with the BJP, do you expect the PM to deliver on the Rs 1.25 lakh crore central funds he had promised the people of Bihar during the assembly polls?
What you say is correct.
We had raised this issue of central assistance to Bihar during the second term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's rule, and Sushil Modi (the current deputy CM and finance minister in the earlier JD-U-BJP government) was with us then.
The Bihar assembly had passed a unanimous resolution to demand grant of special status to Bihar. We had taken a promise from Modi as well.
Now that we have an alliance government, we expect the PM to deliver on his promise.
We have no other agenda but to construct a 'new Bihar', one of the best developed states of India, and provide good governance.
A big reason for the alliance with BJP is this.