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Snubbed by Modi-Shah, Nitish reached out to Lalu

May 14, 2019 15:19 IST

Nitish 'sent his emissary, Prashant Kishor, to me on five different occasions.'
'Kishor seemed to indicate that if I were to assure in writing my party's support to the JD-U, the latter would pull out of the BJP alliance and rejoin the Mahagathbandhan.'
A revealing excerpt from Lalu Prasad Yadav's Gopalganj To Raisina: My Political Journey.

 

Six or seven months after sharing power with the BJP, Nitish became uncomfortable and restive yet again.

The BJP had begun to humiliate him.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Photograph: PTI Photo
 

His party had won only two Lok Sabha seats against the 33 of the BJP-led NDA.

Prime Minister Modi visited the flood-ravaged regions of Kosi and Seemanchal in July-August 2017, but snubbed Nitish by rejecting the latter's offer of dinner.

The prime minister also pointedly rejected Nitish's demand to accord central university status to Patna University, at the latter's centenary event.

He was refused access to Modi and Amit Anilchandra Shah for a long period of time.

In the process, anxiety and insecurity troubled him again.

Nitish summoned a meeting of his party leaders in June 2018, and asked party spokespersons to declare him as the 'elder brother' in the NDA in Bihar.

Out of the blue, he raised the bogey of special category status for Bihar, and also said, 'We will not compromise on three Cs -- communalism, crime and corruption.'

He suddenly started insisting that he would act against the communal forces.

He did everything to put pressure on the BJP.

Simultaneously, he sent his emissary, Prashant Kishor, to me on five different occasions.

Kishor seemed to indicate that if I were to assure in writing my party's support to the JD-U, the latter would pull out of the BJP alliance and rejoin the Mahagathbandhan.

IMAGE: 'Though I was not bitter with Nitish,' says Lalu Yadav, 'I had lost trust in him completely.' Photograph: PTI Photo

Though I was not bitter with Nitish, I had lost trust in him completely.

Moreover, I was not sure how the people who had voted for the Grand Alliance in 2015, and the other political parties that had united against the BJP all over the country, would react if I accepted Kishor's offer.

Kishor also met my son and the leader of the Opposition in the Bihar assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, in a bid to facilitate Nitish's comeback in the Mahagathbandhan.

Kishor pleaded that if we accepted Nitish back, we could win as many as 60 seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and decimate the BJP in the Hindi heartland.

But I refused to respond positively to Kishor's plea.

I told him that the voters were furious with Nitish for his betrayal, and that the chief minister no longer had any credibility with the masses.

After failing to secure the desired response from us, Nitish had no option but to maintain his ties with the BJP.

The latter has turned defensive in the wake of its less than expected show in Gujarat, reverses in Karnataka, loss of three crucial by-elections in UP, and poor performance in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Anilchandra Shah, right, greets Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the state guest house in Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo

After keeping Nitish on tenterhooks, Shah came to Patna on July 12, 2018, and invited him for seat-sharing talks for the 2019 parliamentary polls.

Nitish has become a restless soul once again, and he alone is responsible for his troubles.

It is almost impossible now for him to regain credibility and win the confidence of the Dalits, minorities and the weaker sections of society, who are at the receiving end all over the country due to the RSS-BJP's excesses on them.

***

 

With my three children, Misa, Tej Pratap and Tejashwi, becoming active in politics, my opponents began to attack me for promoting what they called dynasty politics.

These are baseless and uncalled-for allegations.

Rabri and I never interfered with Misa when she was doing her MBBS course.

We didn't interfere with Tejashwi's passion for cricket.

Tej Pratap is good at playing the flute, apart from working for the party.

They are all adults, doing what they like.

We, of course, supported and guided them when they showed an inclination towards politics.

IMAGE: 'I was a poor cowherd's son.' Photograph: Kind courtesy laluprasadrjd/facebook.com

I was a poor cowherd's son.

I had not inherited politics from my family.

I struggled hard to gain acceptance and recognition from the people.

Some elections I won, others I lost.

IMAGE: A younger Lalu Prasad Yadav, during his struggling days. Photograph: Kind courtesy laluprasadrjd/facebook.com

I joined student politics well before I was married to Rabri Devi.

Misa was born when I was in jail in 1975.

She was barely two years old when I was elected an MP from Chhapra in 1977.

I have promoted hundreds of youth in politics.

More than 60 per cent of the 80 MLAs of our party are new entrants to politics.

I have identified fresh political talent among the weaker sections and have guided them.

We cannot stop change.

The new generation is better at connecting with the youth and getting to know their aspirations.

 
IMAGE: Dr Misa Bharti contested the Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and lost to the BJP's Ram Kripal Yadav, who was once one of her father's closest aides. Photograph: Kind courtesy laluprasadrjd/facebook.com

Misa contested the Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and lost to a BJP candidate.

But she didn't lose heart and worked for the party with greater enthusiasm in the 2015 assembly elections, moving out into the dust bowls of Bihar and addressing several public gatherings.

People responded to her enthusiastically.

Party legislators elected her to the Rajya Sabha in 2016.

She is doing well as an MP.

IMAGE: 'Nitish, too, didn't have any complaints against Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, both of whom performed reasonably well as ministers.' Photograph: Kind courtesy, RJD Web site

Tej Pratap and Tejashwi contested the Mahua and Raghopur assembly seats of north Bihar respectively in 2015.

They won handsomely as the Grand Alliance's candidates against the BJP-led alliance.

They were among a dozen ministers in the RJD quota, which had the highest number of MLAs.

Both Tej Pratap and Tejashwi touched Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's feet after taking the oath.

I had specifically asked my two sons to have the greatest respect for Nitish.

I asked them to learn skills in governance from the chief minister, who had long experience in public life and administration.

In fact, I asked all RJD legislators and ministers to cooperate with the chief minister, who belonged to the JD-U.

 

Tejashwi, as PWD minister, earned praise from some Union ministers he coordinated with to expedite work related to the department in Bihar.

He had a few meetings with Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, and the then minister for railways, Suresh Prabhu.

Though he belonged to the BJP, Gadkari appreciated Tejashwi's conduct during a chance encounter with me in New Delhi.

I requested Gadkari to keep guiding Tejashwi in the art of administration and governance.

Prabhu, too, had words of praise for Tejashwi, who had met him for the transfer of the Digha-Patna tracks -- a railway property -- to the Bihar government.

I have no qualms in acknowledging that Nitish, too, didn't have any complaints against Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, both of whom performed reasonably well as ministers.

IMAGE: 'I can say that Tejashwi is a rising star in Bihar politics,' says Lalu Yadav. Photograph: Kind courtesy Tejaswi Yadav/Facebook

With all my experience in public life, I can say that Tejashwi is a rising star in Bihar politics.

He is a God-gifted child.

He has inherent talent for leadership.

Most of my senior colleagues in the party have accepted him as the next-generation leader.

He is fully capable of communicating with the masses in an effective manner and leading the party cadres.

 
IMAGE: 'Tejashwi has also become the darling of television channels, and they regularly invite him to their shows and special events.' Photograph: Kind courtesy @yadavtejashwi/twitter.com

Tejashwi has also become the darling of television channels, and they regularly invite him to their shows and special events.

He was invited by NDTV, where the anchor of the show repeatedly complimented Tejashwi for being exceptionally camera-savvy in the short span since he had come under the media glare.

During the recent India Today Mind Rocks Youth Summit 2018, the anchor remarked that Tejashwi possessed the innate genius of being witty and rustic, just like his father.

I don't find time to interact with him too much now, because he remains busy with party activities and assembly proceedings.

But I do get to watch his interviews on television channels and his addresses to the people and the cadres.

Whenever he meets me, I suggest to him that he must be compassionate and kind to the poor, serve the people as much as he can, always stand behind the underdogs, not pay too much attention to false allegations being levelled by his opponents, increase his interactions with the youth, understand their aspirations, and win their hearts and confidence.

I also advise him to never stop reading and study the philosophies of Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Lohia and JP to get grounded in the idea of India, respect and love India's cultural diversity, stick to the concepts of social justice and secularism all through his life, and take care of his health, be happy and make others happy.

Tejashwi is an important leader in the making.

He already has some stupendous achievements as leader of the RJD.

He has spearheaded the party to victory in three by-elections.

The Araria Lok Sabha seat had fallen vacant following the death of our party's veteran leader, Mohammad Taslimuddin.

The RJD gave the ticket to Sarfaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, to contest against Pradip Kumar Singh of the BJP.

 
IMAGE: A picture tweeted by Tejashwi Yadav, on meeting his father Lalu Prasad Yadav at the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai. Photograph: Kind courtesy @yadavtejashwi/twitter.com

I was hospitalized at the Asian Heart Hospital in Mumbai and was undergoing treatment for heart and kidney-related ailments.

In my absence, Tejashwi campaigned for Sarfaraz who trounced his BJP rival by an emphatic margin of over 60,000 votes.

The RJD also won the Jokihat and Jehanabad assembly seats in March 2018.

Tejashwi led the party's campaign against the BJP-JD-U after Nitish quit the Mahagathbandhan and joined the NDA.

The RJD's victory in the Jokihat assembly bypoll in Bihar by a huge margin is all the more significant as this seat had been a JD-U stronghold for over a decade.

By leading the party successfully in major by-elections, Tejashwi has shown promise.

As a father, I can only bless him and wish him well.

But despite his many achievements in the short time he has been in active politics, he has a long way to go.

He is still young.

It is his conduct and performance that hold the key to his survival and success in politics.

Tejashwi has to be honest to the cause of the people, sober in his public conduct, and work hard consistently for years to come.

 
 

Excerpted from Gopalganj To Raisina: My Political Journey by Lalu Prasad Yadav with Nalin Verma, with the kind permission of the publishers, Rupa Publications.

 

 

Nalin Verma
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