Patna: Bihar’s deputy chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi has dismissed rumours that there are cracks in his party’s alliance with the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), led by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
He said in an interview that he expects the ruling alliance in the state to do well in the ongoing Lok Sabha election thanks to its good governance. Saying that he doesn’t aspire to be chief minister, he also lashed out at railway minister and former state chief minister Lalu Prasad for his “casual administrative approach” while he was at the helm in Bihar. Edited excerpts:
Content: Modi says he doesn’t aspire to be chief minister. Hindustan Times
Aren’t you tired of being under the JD(U)’s wing?
The JD(U) is a senior partner (in the government) and there is a big gap between that party (with 90 members in the legislative assembly) and our party (with 55 members). Nitish Kumar is the leader. There is no clash of interests and we should not compete.
Don’t you think Kumar will one day walk out of the alliance, the same way Naveen Patnaik (Orissa chief minister and Biju Janata Dal leader) did in his state?
Our alliance is different from that of the Congress and the (Lalu Prasad-led) Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar. The JD(U) is the oldest ally of the BJP. We have fought eight elections together (in the state). From 1996, we are fighting together. The alliance in Bihar is functioning very smoothly. The people in the opposition and the media do not want this coalition to function smoothly. I don’t know about Orissa but in Bihar there is not even a remote chance of us parting ways.
Aren’t you interested in being Bihar’s chief minister?
It is not a question of who should be the chief minister... I want to work for the state. What I have achieved in my life is more than enough for anybody... I don’t aspire to be the chief minister.
What is the main issue in this election—development or caste?
Caste will always play an important role in this country. Along with caste, we have to put all the social groups in our combination. Nobody should feel deprived. In the previous regime, it was only the equation of Muslims and Yadavs (who belong to the other backward classes). We have broad-based our alliance. Caste is a ground reality. You have to take care of social combinations, but caste is not the only thing... Due to the good work done by our government and good governance, we are better placed than others (in these polls).
Good governance is one thing and managing people’s aspirations another. How do you plan to manage people’s aspirations?
We will manage people’s aspirations. We (the state’s ruling coalition) are in our 40th month of rule and the so-called honeymoon period is still on. People had lost faith in the previous government. They know that we are sincere and we have our limitations. They are ready to wait as well. If we sincerely make efforts in continuing with the work, they are ready to give us more time. They know that if we fail, no one else can deliver.
Is the Muslim vote getting fractured in this election?
Yes. We have made sincere efforts to make sure that Muslims don’t feel discriminated against. They never felt isolated. Lalu (Prasad) used to create fear in the minds of Muslims that the BJP will come to power... We, along with the JD(U), have made joint decisions and there was not a single decision which was not favoured by the BJP.
What are Lalu Prasad’s chances in this election?
No one can easily dismiss Lalu. He is a powerful political figure in the country. However, he has been sidelined by the people... By dividing society he thought that he could fool all the people all the time. He lacked vision and was casual in his administrative approach.