Tejashwi’s comment assumes significance as it comes in the wake of Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP threatening to join anti-govt protest by Dalit outfits.
New Delhi: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has said his party will give a serious thought to any proposal coming from Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party — an NDA ally — if it decides to join the opposition alliance in Bihar but ruled out out any tie-up with chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U).
“Ram Vilas Paswan has not backstabbed us like Nitish Kumar,” Tejashwi said. “He moved out of the grand alliance and made his decision public. Therefore, we don’t have any grudge against him or his party.”
Coming at a time when Paswan has turned up the heat on the BJP-led central government over issues concerning Dalits and tribals, Tejashwi’s comment assumes significance.
Paswan’s son and LJP MP Chirag had last Friday almost threatened the government, saying if it fails to bring a bill to restore the stringent measures of SC/ST Atrocities Act, his party will be forced to join the protest called by several Dalit organisations on 9 August.
He also sought the removal of NGT chairman A.K. Goel, who was one of the Supreme Court judges on the bench that delivered a verdict seen as dilution of the original provisions of the SC/ST law.
Tejashwi, however, has termed this threat by the LJP as a “political stunt”.
“Chiragji should understand that being part of an anti-Dalit, anti-reservation, anti-constitutional government, he can’t claim to protect Dalit rights,” Tejashwi told ThePrint.
“This is a government run from Nagpur and he knows it very well. He must be worried now that the Dalits may desert his party if he stays with the government,” Tejashwi, the leader of the opposition in Bihar, added.
Opposition alliance in Bihar
Tejashwi, son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is convicted in fodder scam cases but is currently on bail on medical grounds, has been trying to woo some of the NDA’s partners in Bihar in his attempt to form a grand alliance against the BJP before 2019 elections.
One such NDA ally, Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, has already joined the Congress-RJD alliance in Bihar.
“I have openly said that (Upendra) Kushwahaji (of Rashtriya Lok Samta Party) is more than welcome in our alliance and we are all willing to accommodate him,” Tejashwi said.
The RLSP is also an NDA ally and Kushwaha is a union minister.
The RJD is also willing to accommodate parties such as Mayawati-led BSP, which has minimal presence in Bihar. Tejashwi is planning to personally call the BSP chief to discuss the possibility of an alliance in Bihar.
But he made it clear that at no cost would his party consider the re-induction of Nitish in the grand alliance.
“His (Nitish’s) condition is that even the BJP doesn’t want him to be the chief minister of the state for long,” he said.
Calling the BJP MP from Patna Sahib Shatrughan Sinha a family member and guardian, Tejashwi said his party would welcome him with open arms if Sinha decides to join the RJD.
Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate
While other regional parties are non-committal when it comes to the PM candidate, RJD has openly backed Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the PM face from the opposition.
“I support Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate. After all, Congress is a national party with a countrywide presence,” Tejashwi said.
Tejashwi also said the Congress, being the largest opposition party, will have to take the lead in stitching the opposition alliance.
Tejashwi is of the view that a pre-poll alliance will be better than a post-poll one and puts the onus on Congress to make that possible.
“I would suggest a nationwide pre-poll alliance is the best option. This will automatically make Rahulji the leader of the alliance. In case of a post-poll alliance, things would be decided later,” he said.
When asked about his reported differences with his elder brother Tej Pratap, Tejashwi calls it a BJP ploy.
“When BJP doesn’t get anything, they start making the noise that all is not well within our family. We are like normal brothers and don’t care what others say,” he said.
Tejashwi had planned a three-day “Cycle Yatra” from Gaya to Patna to protest against what he calls the rising incidents of crime against women in the state. The yatra had to be cancelled after the first day because of heavy rains.
A few days ago, the Bihar government handed over the case of state-run shelter in Muzaffarpur where 29 girls were allegedly raped and tortured to the CBI.
“In the Muzaffarpur incident, buck stops at some of the ministers in the current state government,” Tejashwi alleged.