Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Dalit leader and founder of Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), left the NDA for UPA. In an interview with Rajesh Kumar Thakur, Manjhi dwells on the current play of politics, the two coalitions and what he thinks is politically in store in the Lok Sabha polls-2019.
A big NDA charge against UPA is that it is a ‘mahamilawat’and it lacks a leader of Narendra Modi’s stature.
That definitely would warm the cockles of Modi bhakhts (loyalists) but is as false a propaganda as the poll promises made by NDA leaders during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. All Opposition parties arrayed against the BJP is one and same, with the same social agenda. Where is the milawat (adulteration)? I believe, there is a good future Prime Minister in Rahul Gandhi who has all the qualities that are required to be a good PM . He will not disappoint anyone.
How do you see PM Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad as individuals?
Whenever I sought an interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he never disappointed me. He heard me with rapt attention and honoured me with humility and hospitality. But as a politician, he has proved himself to be a non-performer. Nitish Kumar humiliated me, threw me out from the post of CM and the party because I was not a puppet. Kumar is a visionary but acts on hearsay. Lalu Prasad is not a two-timing politician. He is the same on the outside, as within.
Why did you leave the NDA?
I requested the PM for reservation in judiciary and a common school system to ensure equality in education for children of poor families of all castes and creeds. I would have liked the Arvind Kejriwal model of education. He has done a wonderful job in Delhi government schools. The other issue was to get electoral rolls linked with Aadhaar to check duplicate voters. Nothing happened.
Which way would SC/ST communities vote this time?
I was born and brought up in an extremely poor SC Musahar (rat-eating) caste. I know how they feel. None from the marginalised groups would vote for the NDA. Also, because it is a threat to their rights, including reservations.
Do you support 10% quota for upper castes’ poor?
I support it fully. Poverty is not limited to select castes but is the same for all castes, creeds. They should be treated equally. This is not about politics. The nation needs to launch a serious war against poverty, illiteracy and casteism. It also needs to go to war against hatred and communal prejudices, which affect poor. Unfortunately, the BJP divides us for its electoral gains.
How do you think the NDA will fare in the polls?
The NDA is like a cotton heap that will be reduced to ashes with the first spark. It is doomed to taste defeat just because of its propaganda-based politics. It is now a well understood fact that no development has taken place to help people out of poverty. You cannot gun for a win with a plethora of schemes of impractical nature with publicity, but no benefit. There are 65 crore youth who abhor slogans but need jobs, more opportunities. There is none of that. I believe, a nation of disappointed youths never take kindly to rulers. PM Modi will face this youth court which will write his pink slip. I would say, beware the youth PM Modi.