Millennium Post

‘Seemed like the BJP wanted to teach us a lesson’

You had been an ally of the BJP for the last 17 years. How painful was the decision to split with one of your oldest allies?

The circumstances were such that continuing the alliance became a problem for us. There have been many reasons for this split and discussing the reasons would be naive. In the course of time, the situation worsened and ties between the two parties came to a naught. Though, efforts were made to keep the 17 year old alliance intact. However, the cadre at the ground was of the view that there will be no advantage to Janata Dal (United), if we kept our alliance together with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). And for us, we give importance to our principles and legacy.

You have said before that there has been a change in BJP and the party has moved on from the Atal -Advani era. So what difference do you see in the BJP now?

The difference is that at that time the BJP used to function under a broad national agenda. But over the time, we felt that the party has deviated from its original pan-Indian agenda. The BJP also knows that in Gujarat we have never contested elections together. We have always fought separately and  they (BJP) know  what our reservations are. First, we won 4 seats, then 2 and then finally 1, but we always fought the elections separately. We know how to deal with a party in an alliance and we made efforts to make that alliance work. But it was getting difficult to keep it together, so we decided to split.

Were efforts made by the BJP try to save the 17-year -old alliance?

Yes, efforts were made by the leaders of BJP, but unfortunately none of them had a solution to the problems raised by us. We wanted a leader who could keep the nature of the alliance intact.

Do you think that the alliance could have been saved?

It is useless to talk about it now. It was a political and ideological decision and not driven by business interests.

If the BJP does not project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, then can we see JD(U) going back to BJP?

 It takes effort to form an alliance and when an alliance is broken, then many contradictions come to the fore. After that, it gets difficult to come together. Also, there was no one there (BJP) who could address the concerns raised by us. The question that you are asking is speculative and now it is very difficult for us to go back into the alliance.

Since the time the alliance between the BJP and JD(U) ended, there have been allegations by your former ally that say that you now are a partner of the Congress party. How would you react to that?

What they are alleging is absolutely false. The Congress had initially planned to abstain during the trust vote and later they decided to vote in our favour. We did not influence their decision; this was an internal resolution of the Congress Party. Also corruption and secularism are still the two most important concerns for us. Now that the BJP and the JD(U) have split, they (BJP) should concentrate on running their own party and their alliance, while we concentrate on running our party. Someone said that we do not have a problem with the BJP leader LK Advani and attributed this to me. But I never said it as the senior BJP leader was never the issue. There was never one reason for the split. They were several. Even the BJP knows the reason for breaking the alliance.

Now, the Congress supported your government in Bihar during the trust vote. So, would we see a reciprocal gesture at the Centre? Moreover, can we expect that in matters like the JPC on 2G, where there is an even split between Congress and the opposition, you could now vote in favour of the government?

We have just left the alliance. So now, we will decide what to do next. But we will not change our stand on JPC and stick with the decision that we had taken earlier. Also, what you forget is that during the Presidential elections, Shiv Sena and our party supported Pranab Mukherjee. You should have asked this question then. We had 33 MPs and had supported Pranab Mukherjee, but we voted for an individual and not for the Congress Party because he was undoubtedly the best choice at that time. Also, the political situation in 2014 could be rather challenging. Earlier, no one asked why we had supported the candidate of Congress party. Also during the time of Pratibha Patil, Shiv Sena had supported her candidature.

So, would we still see you now on the same side as that of BJP when it comes to parliament and would you still oppose the government?

The whole opposition will stay united in Parliament.

There have been talks about a new federal front. What is your view on this?

It is too early to say anything on this as we have just left the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). There are many parties which have not aligned to either the NDA or the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) - be it Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Trinamool Congress, DMK,  AIADMK or the TDP. So, it is wrong to ask this question to us since we have not decided anything on the issue of the federal front.

Now, we are likely to see Modi actively campaigning in Bihar. So would that help your party or will it be a loss for you?

We have not broken the alliance for political gain or loss, but because our fundamental principles were in danger. You know that during the National Front government, we took a decision to implement Mandal Commission’s suggestion, but they (BJP) countered it with Mandir and withdrew support. We let the government fall but did not budge from our stand. That was a big loss for us.   We could have easily let them carry on with their agenda and could have saved our government. But we didn’t.  This is a much smaller sacrifice in comparison. Those who take a principled stand in this country, they have to pay a price for that. Also, even if we would have been with NDA, we would not have reached the magic mark of 272 in 2014. Neither  UPA, nor the parties that are not part of NDA or UPA will reach that threshold by themselves. So, as we had done in the past (1996), this time too, we will sit and find a way out and JD (U) will be a part of the solution, not the problem.

You lost in Maharajgang by-poll. So, what are going to be its implications?

During this time, many mistakes were committed by our party and even the BJP was not putting in their effort as far as this by election was concerned. In fact, it seemed like the BJP wanted to teach a lesson to us. It appears this victory is not of RJD but of BJP.

So, now would it be fair to say that you have given a lifeline to RJD, as it is going to be a three-cornered contest now?

The decision that we took was after much deliberation and we know what the impact is going to be.

The corporate influence in politics is much talked about, be it within the BJP or the Congress. What are your views on this?

These people will be finished during elections. The country can’t be run like this.
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