'The BJP should be really wary of Nitish Kumar, or he will also take the BJP down with him.'
It is no secret now that all is not well within the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar.
A major constituent of the group, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, whose chief Upendra Kushwaha is a Union minister in the Narendra Modi government, has long been demanding a 'fair share' of seats in the coming Lok Sabha election.
So far, the party has been firing salvos at the Janata Dal-United, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. But it is now openly attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party, the senior partner of the alliance.
The party has rejected all media reports about seat-sharing and demands a discussion over the issue involving all NDA members in Bihar.
Days after Kushwaha mocked a report of a proposed 20:20 formula for seat sharing (where the BJP gets 20 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state while the remaining 20 will be distributed among other allies with the JD-U getting the largest share), RLSP Working President Nagmani went so far as to say that the BJP is 'pushing' their party towards the Mahagathbandhan -- the grand alliance of Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.
If the BJP doesn't give due respect and recognition to his party, Nagamani tells Rediff.com's Utkarsh Mishra, "We are free to talk to any other party."
Why did you say the BJP is 'pushing you' towards the Mahagathbandhan?
See, we and the BJP are partners. And the BJP should treat us like partners. We are not slaves of the BJP. They are not our maalik that whatever they will say (we will accept).
The BJP should hold talks with us as equals and seat sharing should be according to the strength of the respective parties in Bihar.
Our party is the most popular in Bihar after the BJP and the RJD and holds the largest mandate after these two parties.
Nitish Kumar has only 1.5 per cent vote of the Kurmi community. And we have 10 per cent consolidated votes. And they (the BJP) talk about giving 15 to 17 (Lok Sabha) seats to Nitish Kumar and only 2 to 3 to us. Is this acceptable?
People have to vote in elections, not the MLAs or MPs.
There should be proper discussions and seats should be given according to the strength of respective parties.
If they (the BJP) don't do that, then our party is free to talk to any other party.
So an alliance with the RJD is also possible?
When you will not value us, when you will not treat us according to the mandate our party wields, then we are also an independent party. We are not tied to the BJP.
We are partners and we will talk like partners.
And will you insist on Upendra Kushwaha being made the CM candidate in case of such an alliance?
This is our party's choice. Bihar has had CMs from various castes, so why not Kushwaha?
After the Muslim and Yadav vote, the Kushwaha vote is the strongest in Bihar. It is 10 per cent. So this is one ground (to make Upendra Kushwaha CM).
Secondly, Upendra Kushwaha enjoys a clean image. He has no accusations against him.
That's why our party has clearly declared that if Upendra Kushwaha is projected as the CM face, then the NDA will definitely win a majority of Lok Sabha seats (in Bihar
And if they won't do that, then nobody can avert a disastrous defeat of the NDA in Bihar.
Our vote is the balancing vote. If it stays with the NDA, the NDA will have an upper hand.
And if it goes with the UPA, the UPA will have an edge.
And that is the reason why both the alliances -- UPA and NDA -- want us to be with them.
We are in the NDA right now. If we get our due share and if we are treated with respect, then we will remain in the NDA.
We have 3 MPs in the Lok Sabha while the JD-U has two.
And what we see in media reports is that Nitish Kumar's party will get 15 to 17 seats and we will get 2 to 3. Do you call it just?
The BJP should be really wary of Nitish Kumar, or he will also take the BJP down with him.
What should be the ratio of seats according to your party? Who should get how much?
This is a matter of discussion. We will not talk about it through the media.
All I want to say is that it should be according to the strength and mandate of respective parties.
If we did not enjoy people's support, why would the RJD be making attempts to pull us on their side? They are doing it because of our strength.
And the BJP doesn't realise this strength.
It is also being said that because of Prashant Kishor -- who is now in the JD-U and who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah -- the BJP is inclined towards the JD-U and the RLSP is being alienated.
I have no comments to make on the relationship of Prashant Kishor with Nitish Kumar.
I'm saying that seat sharing in the Lok Sabha elections should be according to the mandate of respective parties.
Do you feel the BJP is apathetic towards its allies?
We are presenting the genuine demand of our party. I told you that our party will provide decisive strength to whichever alliance it goes with.
Now it is for them to decide about how they take us.
But the JD-U has more MLAs than your party. Does that weaken your case?
I tell you that the victory (in the 2015 assembly elections in Bihar) was neither due to Nitish Kumar nor because of Laluji.
(Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief) Mohan Bhagwat gave a statement about a review of the reservation policy. And Laluji made a big issue of out of it. Dalits and backward castes felt that if the BJP comes to power, they will end reservations.
The Muslims were already firm on not voting for the BJP.
Now when the Dalit, backward and Muslim vote came together, then what could 10 per cent upper caste vote do?
So it was a victory of that collective vote, not of Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Laluji has his mandate. But Nitish Kumar has only 1.5 per cent Kurmi vote. He doesn't have the mandate to talk to us like that.
And if the BJP isn't prudent enough to realise this in time, the 'Nitish factor' will destroy it.
Your views on the law and order situation in the state.
I have already said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has gone mad. There is no law and order in the state.
Not a day goes without someone being murdered in broad daylight.
You see, only a courageous ruler can run the administration. And Nitish Kumar has lost all courage and dignity, because he doesn't have people's support.
Once when Lalu Yadav was the CM, there were some reports of riots being planned.
Lalu declared that he will bulldoze the powers planning riots in the state. Nobody dared to foment riots in the state after that.
So the point is that the CM should have courage, and not be feeble like Nitish Kumar.
Deputy CM (Sushil Kumar Modi) pleads with criminals with folded hands not to commit crimes. You tell me, will a thief heed such requests? They should be stopped, not appealed to.
It is the fallacy of the administration (that they don't do that).