'Caste and religion are part of old politics. People are realising it now.'
On April 27, the final day of campaigning at a village near Begusarai, Bihar, Rediff.com Contributor M I Khan spoke to Communist Party of India candidate Kanhaiya Kumar who achieved national renown or notoriety, depending on what side of the political fence you are on, as JNU student union president.
This is your first experiment of elections outside the JNU campus.
I am contesting the election with the support of the people. People from all sections have come forward to join me.
Look, here the fight is between Narendra Modi versus We the People.
It is a battle with a difference.
On one side is Modi, the face of crony capitalism, paid media, corrupt bureaucrats. On the other side is the people.
The popular perception of Modi is different.
Loot of the country is not desh sewa. Modi and his team have been looting the country.
Unlike Modi's BJP, I am contesting the election with people's donations and contributions. People have helped me physically and they also blessed me.
I got donations of Rs 100 from people. Some people from far off places came to my village Bihat. Those who did not come prayed for me.
How much pressure is there on you as a young contestant in the fray?
I don't have any pressure at all. After all, when the people are with you, there is no problem. I never thought I will contest a Lok Sabha election.
I have nothing to lose except to gain the support, help, affection and the love of people.
Your opponents are reportedly playing the caste and religion cards. How difficult is it to focus on issues?
Caste and religion are part of old politics. People are realising it now. I am confident that issue-based politics will emerge in India. I am getting support from all sections of people on issues.
Caste and religious equations will not work in Begusarai as we have tried to reach out to people with issues that affect them.
What about the charges of 'deshdrohi' and being part of the 'tukde tukde' gang leveled against you? The BJP is targeting you and your supporters.
The 'deshdrohi' charge is baseless, useless and far from the truth.
They (the BJP) have no issues except false issues like it. Modi and Amit Shah are not raising the issues of common people. Both are making promises like they did in the last election and fooling people. People are replying to the BJP.
Amit Shah urged people in Begusarai to vote against those supporting terror and for vikas. Modi at his election rallies in Bihar targeted you.
People understand why they are attacking me personally. I am a son of Begusarai, I know there is lack of health facilities for people. There is no good hospital. Roads in rural parts are in bad condition. Even the road connecting Begusarai to Patna mainly from Bakhtiyarpur to Mokama is in poor condition.
Then there is the deplorable condition of educational institutions, the lack of teachers.
What will be the election outcome in Begusarai?
It is a battle between truth and lies. Modi stands with lies.
My fight for the common people will continue. I was fighting for the people before the election, during the election. I will continue to do so after the election.
For me issues matter, not leaders.