BJP has neither any policy nor achievement

Last Updated : 15 August 2015, 18:32 IST

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Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary has no qualms in admitting that due to poor organisational structure, the grand old party had no option other than to enter into an alliance with regional outfits like the JD(U) and the RJD. “After all, the common goal of all the three secular parties remains the same – to keep the BJP at bay,” says the 45-year-old former minister who served under Rabri Devi when Congress extended support to the RJD government headed by her from 2000 to 2005.

Choudhary told Abhay Kumar of Deccan Herald that such is the formidable combination of JD(U), RJD and Congress that the Assembly result will be an eye-opener for many pollsters. Excerpts:

With the announcement of seat-sharing pact, the Nitish-led alliance seems to have made a sound start. But are you satisfied with Congress being allocated only 40 seats out of 243 constituencies?

Absolutely. The focus is not on the quantum of seats. Winnability is the criterion.

…..by riding piggyback on Nitish and Lalu? Will the charge of jungle raj not hamper your prospects?

What else can the BJP leaders say? They don’t have any policy to announce. They don’t have any achievement either at the Centre or in the state to boast of. So, all they can do is to run down their opponents and take the poll campaign to a new low.

You are referring to Narendra Modi’s comment about Nitish Kumar’s DNA?

Absolutely. Nitishji is an elected chief minister. No prime minister, since independence, has ever made such derogatory remarks against a chief minister. Actually, the BJP has started a negative campaign. Initially, it tried to drive a wedge between Lalu and Nitish. When they could not succeed, they started deriding their opponents. This has led to more bitterness.

But the BJP, during its campaign, said the Modi government has done more for Bihar than…

(interrupts)… the fact is that it was Manmohan Singh government which gave Bihar its first IIT, IIM, two Central universities, coal linkages (the UPA regime decided to supply coal on a tapering basis to support expansion of Barauni Thermal Power Station), allocation of Rs 2,385 crore for construction of 3486 km of rural roads and 96 bridges in Bihar, enhanced Bihar’s Annual Plan size by 20 per cent…

…But you never highlighted these achievements? And your rival BJP says it has given Bihar Rs 50,000 crore more…

(Interrupts again)  Let me put the record straight. Contrary to BJP’s claim, the Narendra Modi regime has slashed Bihar’s fund allocation. As per the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, Bihar will get nearly Rs 15,000 crore less in view of the curtailed Centrally-sponsored schemes (like MNREGA and Indira Awas Yojna) and slashed BRGF (Backward Region Grant Fund).

That’s why I am asking you why have you not propagated your contribution to Bihar and highlighted the step-motherly treatment of Modi government towards the State?

Let me confess honestly that we are way behind the BJP in marketing. But Nitish has often forcefully highlighted Modi’s discrimination towards Bihar.

Are you dependent on Nitish Kumar or your own party vice-president Rahul Gandhi too will campaign in Bihar?

Not only Rahul, but Sonia and other top-rung leaders will make a whirlwind tour of the State once the Election Commission announces poll dates.

But in Bihar, people laugh at your party leadership and say that instead of touring poll-bound State, Rahul prefers doing padyatra in Telangana?

Rahul is the leader of a national party and has to take care of all. When the time comes, he will devote his energy in Bihar too.

Lastly, do you think Jitan Ram Manjhi will be a factor (and can eventually tilt the balance) given the fact that nearly 16 per cent of the electorate belong to Dalits /Mahadalits, a segment which once upon a time were core Congress supporters?

Manjhi was never a mass leader. Only media has made him a Mahadalit icon.
Published 15 August 2015, 18:24 IST

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