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Nitish Kumar’s ghamand is he is the only Bihari here: Radha Mohan Singh

The Union agriculture minister, elected from Purvi Champaran, discusses Bihar, Dadri and the cow.

Written by Liz Mathew |
October 20, 2015 12:37:51 am
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What makes BJP leaders so confident that the NDA will sweep the election?

The first reason is that after 15 years of misrule, the people of Bihar had thrown out the jungle raj of Lalu Prasad and his wife. Bihar got free of it in 2005 and went in the direction of progress. But two-and-a-half years ago, the chief minister committed a breach of trust with the people and joined hands with the same jungle raj. To rub salt into their wounds, this person has joined the mother-son duo who had looted the country for 10 years. Besides, Bihar is the land of Ram Manohan Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, and the karmabhoomi of Karpoori Thakur. They wanted to see a Congress-free India, but this leader sacrificed their ideology. Anger against this will reflect in this poll.

The BJP claims this election is being fought on a development agenda. Are you now saying that it’s rather a vote against the maha gathbandan that will help you?

The second reason is that people have seen how the NDA worked under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Now Narendra Modi’s government has expedited the pace of the development work initiated by that government. People have seen how BJP-ruled states have progressed. They have also seen the difference between the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which works for the poor, and a state government that could not even spend the Rs 5 crore given by the Centre for flood relief. When the NDA was in power, departments under BJP ministers worked for the poor. There was improvement in the health sector and roads. When we were together, law and order too improved. Incidents of kidnapping came down, but it has since gone up to 5,200 in 2013 and 6,522 in 2014.

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Don’t caste lines remain a stronger influence on Bihar’s voters than development does?

For the first time, development has become the talking point of a Bihar election. People have realised that the maha gathbandan’s big boss, Lalu, who sometimes says there is no difference between meat of gai or bakri and sometimes talks about kawwa or kabootar and sursa or mirchi, wants to change the discourse of this election. But people have already taken to the development agenda. The credit goes to the prime minister.

Do you agree that the Dadri killing has vitiated the atmosphere?

We have clarified, our prime minister has clarified, that we condemn it and no one can take the law into one’s hands. You see our record in the last 15 months, we have not let anyone take the law into their hands.

Why didn’t the PM or anyone from the government speak against it earlier?

See, our prime minister speaks out at the right time on every issue. Our prime minister is not someone who speaks when he is handed over a chit. He need not be told what to say and when to say it, he doesn’t need notes to speak like some other leaders in this country… On this issue, our home minister had spoken earlier.

Can remarks by Sangh leaders backfire on the BJP?

See, I too am an RSS member. The RSS is the largest social organisation in the world and no one can raise a finger against its patriotism. But the RSS does not interfere in the government’s activities. It does give suggestions for the development of the nation. We do not differentiate between Hindu or Muslim. Muslims still praise Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We have introduced many programmes for Muslims. Even Muslims here know that only the BJP can bring development for them. We do have Muslim leaders.

What do you have to say on remarks such as (by Giriraj Singh) the difference between cow meat and goat meat being the same as the difference in a man’s relation with his sister and his wife?

Well, when Lalu says there is no difference between cow meat and goat meat, people tend to make such statements. Hindustan is an agrarian state and our culture is such that no farmer will let the cow die of hunger. The backbone of the rural economy and the family system is the cow. Then if someone says that there is no difference between its meat and a goat’s, no ordinary person can tolerate it. Giriraj Singh is an MP, so he will not tolerate it.

In Bihar, hardly anyone talks against Nitish Kumar’s performance as chief minister. The BJP is going to polls under Prime Minister Modi who comes across as an “outsider” to most people here. Would it have been better if the NDA had a face from the state to lead it?

Nitish Kumar’s ghamand is that he is the only Bihari here. See, Radha Mohan is a Bihari, so are Ram Vilas Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha. The people of Bihar will correct Nitish’s ghamand. The maha gathbandan has just two leaders, Lalu and Nitish. One cannot be even a candidate, so just the other one remains. In my party, there is a parliamentary board that will take a decision at the right time.

What are your chances of becoming CM if the NDA wins?

I have a huge responsibility now.

By saying no upper-caste leader will be the CM, hasn’t the party eliminated some names?

At this point, I will just say that the parliamentary board will take a final decision. Anyone can make suggestions.

In this agrarian state, many farmers say it is not a profitable profession.

Agriculture is in the concurrent list. In BJP-ruled states, whether it is Chhattisgarh or Madhya Pradesh, the agriculture sector has improved, whereas Nitish Kumar is a chief minister who tried to block a central agriculture university when we proposed it. I have records to prove that he had blocked it for five years. After the BJP came into power at the Centre, when Jitan Ram Manjhi was the CM and when he could come out of Nitish’s control, I got it cleared by the cabinet to upgrade Bihar’s agriculture university to a central university.

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