Pankaj Kumar | October 29, 2015
Former union minister for rural development and national vice president of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has immense faith in the ‘grand alliance’ and its victory in the Bihar assembly polls. In an interview with Pankaj Kumar, he admitted the change in relationships with former political rivals saying nothing remains constant in politics. Singh spoke at length about the caste equations, reservations, dynasty politics, beef row and more. Excerpts:
Why do you believe the Magathbandhan should win?
There is a wave [in favour of the Mahagathbandhan] among the poor. I have visited many districts where polling was over and found that there is a consolidation of the poor. I can see the Mahagathbandhan winning a thumping majority.
Don’t you think caste consolidation amounts to dividing the society?
No, we have not done that. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that reservation should be reviewed and caste should not be the basis for reservation. People of Bihar know very well as to who is the real boss of BJP – BJP always does what RSS wants. There is a strong reaction among the backward castes and they have decided to teach them (BJP) a lesson.
Prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have clarified their stand on the reservation policy. Aren’t you satisfied?
See how long it took them to clarify it. Smaller leaders were commenting on it but the prime minister chose to remain silent. Only after they sensed an imminent defeat in Bihar, the prime minister issued a clarification. People in Bihar have understood the link between RSS and BJP – RSS is supreme and BJP is its political wing. RSS chief had said it twice that reservation must be reviewed.
Congress leader Manish Tewari also spoke against caste-based reservation and pushed for economic status as basic criterion for reservation.
The Congress is not running the government. And when the Congress was ruling they did not review it. We are not with the Congress on this. Though it is our ally, we also have differences on several issues.
How comfortable are you with Nitish Kumar? Are you against his projection as the chief minister?
Narendra Modi was asked to follow ‘rajdharma’ by Vajpayee after the Godhra incident. After the riots, USA did not grant him the visa. Now the same country is giving him warm welcome. In politics, situations change, nothing remains constant. The day my party decided to project Nitish kumar as CM, I stood in his support. When the decision about it was not taken, I was speaking my mind.
Do you accept that eight years of Nitish Kumar was actually a ‘susashan’ (good governance) era?
This will be decided by the people [in elections]. We continued to support Nitish Kumar whom BJP had made the chief minister. If the
Mahagathbandhan wins under him then how can anyone remove him?
Are you comfortable with the dynastic politics of Laluji?
For me politics is a tool to fight the evil. I believe dynastic politics is a lower version of caste politics. Mulayam Singh is fighting against Lalu in Bihar though they are relatives. I believe it is height of selfishness and nothing more.
You made controversial remarks on beef issue. Even your party has distanced itself from you on this.
I had said what is mentioned in the Vedas, Purans, Mahabharta and Manu Smriti. Even Swami Vivekananda had said that in Vedic and Uttar Vedic period, Hindus and especially pundits were beef eaters. It was only in the Mauryan period that cow had become holy and Hindus started worshipping it. Mughal emperor Babur had directed Humayun to stop cow slaughter and Shivaji also started a movement for the cause. Now, BJP is politicising the issue for votes. Being a Hindu I also worship the cow and I am a vegetarian, but I cannot deny the truth.
Why do you hold the centre responsible for the Dadri killing?
Dadri killing happened in India and the prime minister is the leader of the nation. Though law and order is a state subject but how can one justify it? It is the duty of the prime minister and the central government to ask why people from minorities and scheduled castes are not safe in the country.
(The interview appears in the November 1-15, 2015 issue)
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