Bypolls not to impact grand alliance; coalition's doors closed for 'chameleon-like' Nitish Kumar: Tejashwi Yadav

New Delhi: Amid disagreements over seat sharing within the Bihar grand alliance constituents for the upcoming bypolls, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday said the elections in the state will not have any impact on the health of the secular coalition.

Yadav also described Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a "chameleon-like" character and ruled out any possibility in the future of him returning to the secular alliance fold. In an interview to PTI, Yadav attacked Kumar saying he helped the RSS and BJP grow and jeopardised secular and socialist politics.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader hit out at the BJP-JD(U) government's response to the flood situation in Bihar, saying the entire state has helplessly watched the "insensitivity" of the Nitish Kumar dispensation and will speak at the polling booth. "Floods, water logging, acute encephalitis syndrome deaths, Muzaffarpur shelter home case are not natural calamities but government-created disasters due to corruption," the former Bihar deputy chief minister said.

Asked about the disagreements over seat sharing among grand alliance constituents, Yadav said: "Let us understand this in perspective. These bypolls are for only five assembly segments and the age of this assembly is hardly ten more months." Disagreements among grand alliance constituents came to the fore when Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) fielded its candidate against the RJD in Nathnagar, while Vikassheel Insan Party led by Mukesh Sahni named its candidate for the Simri Bakhtiyarpur seat.

By-elections will take place on October 21 for the Samastipur Lok Sabha seat necessitated by the death of the sitting LJP MP, as also for Daraunda, Nathnagar, Simari Bakhtiarpur, Kishanganj and Belhar assembly segments with the incumbent JD(U) MLAs and a Congress MLA elected to Parliament. Yadav said alliance partners such as HAM and VIP are innate to "our greater efforts and these by-polls shall not have any impact on the health of our alliance."

All grand alliance partners are well aware of the anti-people policies of the central and state governments and they would remain in solidarity with the cause of the people, the leader of the opposition in the Bihar Assembly said. The churning on the ground is massively against the BJP-JDU government in Bihar and they shall not be able to repeat the general election result of May 23rd, he said.

The 'mahagathbandhan', as the grand alliance is called, comprises of the RJD, the Congress, Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, the HAM, Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). Yadav alleged that the BJP floated "fictional narratives" in recent elections while conveniently ignoring peoples' everyday life issues. Slamming the state government over its response to the devastation caused by floods, he said the Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi-led dispensation unsuccessfully tried to put the blame on '"nature's fury" without acknowledging what they had done with respect to civic amenities.

"The day Mr Sushil Modi was rescued by the NDRF team, many in Bihar said that the entire government should have been rescued," the 29-year-old leader said. Asked if there was a possibility ahead of the Assembly polls next year of Nitish Kumar returning to the grand alliance, Yadav said secularism and socialism is a life-long commitment to inclusive politics and Kumar had given it up forever.

"He (Kumar) did not simply betray us but also the core principles on which secular-socialist politics stands. It is not us alone but also people believing in progressive politics who are unwilling to accommodate a chameleon-like character," he said. RJD's relation with Kumar turned bitter after he left the RJD-led grand alliance in July 2017 and joined hands with the BJP to form the government in Bihar. Yadav alleged that Bihar is in "deep crisis" and is "angry" on account of what has happened in Muzaffarpur shelter home, the loss of lives due to the acute encephalitis syndrome and on account of government's "apathy" in the face of floods.

"The callousness of the government is visible more than ever before in health as well as education and employment," Yadav said. He said that if voted to power in the next assembly polls, his party's agenda shall be guided by the fact that Bihar needs a "massive turnaround" in the field of education, employment and health. "We shall broaden the network of Primary Healthcare Centres and equip them with all modern equipment. We shall also bring people-centric health insurance in first six months of our coming to power. On education, we feel that the entire edifice from primary school to university education needs to be repaired urgently," Yadav said.

Bihar has immense potential in agro industries and the RJD shall soon release a blueprint for it that shall provide immense opportunities for employment generation, he said. "The law and order situation in Bihar is matter of grave concern for all of us and our immediate priority shall be to address it and put an accountability mechanism in place," Yadav said.

(By Asim Kamal/PTI)

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