Ananth Kumar: It’s Jungle Raj vs Vikas Raj in Bihar

Neelu Vyas

In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Union Minister and Bihar poll in-charge for the BJP, Ananth Kumar has called the upcoming state elections a choice between ‘Jungle Raj vs Vikas Raj’. The minister claims that the people of Bihar are now frustrated with the caste rhetoric of Lalu and Nitish whose Grand Alliance is a tainted group. On the issue of not having any particular chief ministerial candidate, he reveals that it is BJP’s strategy not to annoy any caste in doing so. Anant Kumar spoke to Rajya Sabha TV’s Neelu Vyas in Patna.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

It is for the first time that the BJP is contesting 160 seats in Bihar. What are the challenges in terms of micromanagement?

The major challenge is of spreading an organizational network in new areas. BJP is the only party to have 68,000 booth committees in Bihar.

What are the real issues with which you are wooing the voters in Bihar?

People will decide between 15 years of ‘Jungle Raj versus Vikas Raj’. Politics is a reflection of the society. ‘Sabke Liye Vikas’ means development for all and not of any specific caste.

You were in an alliance with the JD(U) for the last eight years. How will you target the JD(U) on the development platform?

In the earlier alliance with JD(U), BJP was the one that focused on development whereas Lalu and Nitish have been talking about caste for the past 25 years. People are fed up of the same old rhetoric. The youth of Bihar is facing an aspirational election this time. Bihari youth are now patriotic new-gen Indians and they don’t care about caste.

It’s a direct contest between Nitish and Narendra Modi as far as the poster war is concerned. Has Nitish managed to match up to BJP’s standards?

Any election is a war of credibility and perception. The image of the Grand Alliance is tainted whereas BJP’s image portrays hope and assurance.

Why is the BJP shying away from announcing its chief ministerial candidate?

BJP has a galaxy of leaders which are led by central leaders. On CM’s candidature the party has a well calibrated strategy. We believe that the people of Bihar are mature and they know the BJP and the NDA. They know that coalitions in the state have been successful only because of BJP’s leadership.

How are you reaching out to the Muslim voters in Seemanchal?

People of Seemanchal have a new awareness about governance, development & good quality of life. People in Bihar have now begun to question why the state is still ‘Bimar’? And why can’t Bihar march forward like other states.

Owaisi’s speeches can have a polarising effect on the voters. Incidents like beef lynching could also have an impact on Bihar elections?

Polarising is a lens which is opaque. If Owaisi is polarizing Muslim votes, he is also consolidating votes for the NDA at the same time.

Is a vision document the new nomenclature for manifesto?

Manifesto is a futuristic statement whereas vision document is a continuing vision.

What is your special economic package about? Nitish says it’s repackaging of existing schemes?

In the last 10 years, the UPA government didn’t do much and they repackaged old policies. BJP’s package is fresh and comprehensive and is worth 1,25,000 crore of assured development in Bihar. Of this, 23,000 crore is only for rural development and welfare of famers in Bihar.

What is the key to BJP’s victory in Bihar?

The key to BJP’s victory will be the minds of people of Bihar who are looking for a change. All sections of society in Bihar want to be a part of this movement. Bihar will be soon be celebrating a new Diwali of hope.