Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy who is also a prominent face of the BJP in Bihar spoke to Rajya Sabha TV’s Neelu Vyas in an exclusive interview.
With less than two weeks to the polls in Bihar, Rudy has accused all the prominent constituents of the Grand Alliance – Congress, RJD and JD(U) – of playing caste politics and fanning caste wars in the state. In fact, he has called the leaders of all these parties, a bunch of regressive people. He says, this year, for the first time, the agenda in Bihar has moved from caste politics to development politics. Rudy also slammed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for harbouring hatred against Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi.
Rudy also spoke about some big party members like Shatrughan Sinha and RK Singh, who have been criticizing BJP’s poll strategies in Bihar. Rudy called the former Home Secretary a novice in politics and outrightly dismissed his claims that BJP tickets were being sold in Bihar. About Shatrughan Sinha, Rudy simply said that all was well between the party and the actor-turned politician.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Has the entry of the Grand Alliance queered the pitch for BJP in Bihar?
There is no Grand Alliance in Bihar. Bihar is against Nitish and Lalu. Lalu is a liability for Nitish. The Congress, Lalu and Nitish have all played caste politics in Bihar year after year. Now their time is over.
What about the BJP? Are you also not getting sucked into the caste matrix?
Caste politics is deeply ingrained in Bihar but BJP has replaced it by focussing on development. Bihar now wants politics of development. Bihar has had enough of Lalu’s rhetoric and Nitish’s mistrust. People in Bihar now want to see a change.
Bihar election is a direct contest between Nitish Kumar and PM Modi. Both are overt about development but covert about caste. Is this the new reality of Bihar politics?
Nitish is in an ego tussle with the PM. He has a sense of hate for the PM. Bihar wants to move forward. The Yadavs and the muslims have become aspirational. Lalu Yadav is a dream of regression whereas the NDA has made development a poll plank. Nitish has completely lost his credibility. The Congress is building a perception against the NDA but Modi is much more popular today.
Do you have reasons to worry about the Third Front?
There is absolutely no threat to the NDA from the Third Front. NDA is sure to form the government in Bihar
RK Singh has said that non-performers have been given tickets on the basis of monetary grounds and not on merit. What do you have to say to that?
In fact, non-performers have been denied a ticket. Competent people have been given tickets. It is the disgruntled elements who are shouting and going to the media with adverse reports. BJP is not responsible for the conduct of the allies.
Why is the BJP not expelling Shatrughan Sinha?
Shatrughan and the BJP are on the same page. He is an actor but can’t be compared with Narendra Modi.
Has AIMIM leader Owaisi’s entry into Bihar scared the BJP?
Of course not. Lalu and Nitish are scared of Owaisi. The Muslims feel cheated by the Congress and Lalu. The BJP is only focussing on the plank of development.
The political community in Bihar has never tried to wean Biharis from backwardness. What’s the reason for this?
Biharis are not backward. We only have to undo the damage that has been done in Bihar for so long.