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The bahubali speaks: 'Mahatma Gandhi is not my icon'

By M I Khan
October 01, 2015 16:03 IST
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'Nitish's claims of development are false. He has only helped corrupt officials.'

'I want to remind Lalu that this is not the 1990s. This is 2015.'

'I am a bahubali for those looting society.'

IMAGE: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, with the Mahatma. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Rajesh Ranjan 'Pappu' Yadav, who helms the newly formed Jan Adhikar Party, is contesting the Bihar assembly election in tandem with five other parties including the Samajwadi Party and Nationalist Congress Party.

This alliance has declared itself as the Third Front and presents itself as an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and the grand alliance of the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress party.

Pappu Yadav, who was expelled from the RJD, was in 2008 sentenced to life imprisonment for his alleged involvement in the murder of Communist Party of India-Marxist MLA Ajit Sarkar, who was shot dead in June 1998.

In 2013, the Patna high court acquitted Yadav, below, left, in the case, citing lack of evidence.

The 48-year-old bahubali (strongman), known for his muscle power in Bihar's flood-prone Kosi region, is keen to play a role during and after the assembly election.

Yadav, who is currently a Lok Sabha member from Madhepura, spoke to M I Khan in Patna.

What is your feedback on the election campaign?

I am not fighting for my personal gain or victory. I am fighting against looters including the NDA and the grand alliance of the JD-U, RJD and Congress who looted Bihar.

The response of the people is overwhelming. They complain about how some top leaders have insulted Bihar, who exploited the poor for their vested interest over the years.

I am working to instil confidence in youngsters who constitute over 68 per cent of Bihar's population.

You are a vocal leader of the Third Front and your party has attracted attention more than your other allies. Is it due to your controversial image and statements?

My politics is to provide an alternative to both the NDA and JD-U-RJD alliance. It is simple to provide a platform of opportunity for all -- above caste, creed and religion. I am fighting for the economic freedom of people. I want to build a new Bihar.

JD-U and RJD leaders claim you have entered the Bihar assembly polls to cut into their base and help the BJP form the next government.

I am not fighting alone. What about all those who are contesting against the grand alliance and the BJP-led NDA? Have Mulayam Singh Yadav and NCP leader Tarique Anwar also joined hands with the BJP?

I have spoken out against the BJP. The majority of my speeches in Parliament are against the BJP and to expose the government at the Centre.

We have decided that Bihar will have a Muslim chief minister if the Third Front wins the assembly election and a deputy chief minister from an OBC (Other Backward Classes) background.

Are you not in politics for power?

My fight is to change the system, end corruption and against the nexus of the powerful and dhan pashu (people with money power).

I am like the common man. I represent them and live for them. My icons are Subhas Chandra Bose, Kabir and Vivekananda.

Mahatma Gandhi is not my icon.

I want to establish the rule of the common man. My party manifesto is unique as it promises to provide rights to the common man.

Why is Gandhi not one of your icons?

Once the polls are over, I will tell you. Gandhi is not my icon, but I respect and strongly follow his high moral values in public life and for changing society.

It was reported that some parties sold election tickets for money.

It is true. Some leaders of the BJP, Lok Janashakti Party, RJD and Congress alleged that their parties have sold tickets for money. It is shameful but true.

Pappu Yadav, the MP from MadhepuraRJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has targeted you repeatedly in recent times.

I have exposed Lalu Prasad and his actions during the last 25 years. His association with the sand mafia and sycophants only pulled him away from the masses.

Lalu has been attacking me as I am talking of a broader cause that transcends caste.

Lalu is harvesting what he had sown. He used Muslims and left them in the lurch. He also used Yadavs and left them by the wayside.

What about Nitish Kumar?

Nitish Kumar has crushed and finished the Yadav community in Bihar. Nitish's claims of development are false. He has only helped corrupt officials and the mafias during his tenure.

Both he and Lalu are guilty of neglecting the economically backwards classes, the Muslims, the Yadavs and the backward castes.

I wanted to remind Lalu that this is not the 1990s. This is 2015.

The world has changed and so has Bihar.

The younger generation wants development, not caste. They want a proper life with good education and health. Lalu must forget outdated caste politics.

I have promised 10 per cent reservations for Muslims and 10 per cent for the poor among the upper castes. That is my vision.

Dozens of leaders including former MLAs and ministers have joined your party. Does this mean that your party has become a shelter for all those denied tickets elsewhere?

Some leaders thought that politics is their fiefdom. They exploited their workers, insulted and humiliated them. Yes, those who were humiliated elsewhere did join my party. This has undoubtedly strengthened it.

You are known as a bahubali. Does this image trouble you?

Some people have projected me in a negative light. For me, all that is important is how the poor and young think of me. I fail to understand why some so-called intellectuals tagged me as a bahubali.

I am a bahubali for those looting society.

Even the great George Fernandes went to jail in the Baroda dynamite case. It's true that criminal charges were levelled against me. I was made an accused in Ajit Sarkar's murder and went to jail for the same. It should be remembered that the Patna high court acquitted me in the case.

Do you hope to play kingmaker once the polls are over?

I am not in hurry to forecast the poll results. I will support anyone who implements my manifesto.

What would you say is your USP?

I have been fighting since the mid 1980s. I am people friendly unlike some netas. I don't think of myself as an MP or a leader; I am just a worker. My wish is that people remember me that way after I die.

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M I Khan in Patna
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