And now instead of being guided by ideology, it has become an instrument for him to gain his political purposes.
How and why did things come to such a pass between you and Nitish Kumar?
I have been associated with the JD(U) since 2013 ever since I resigned from the foreign service to join Nitish Kumar. Over the years, Mr Kumar has changed and today he is not the same Mr Kumar whom I had joined. Today his focus is only on power and political gains irrespective of ideology… therefore it came to such a pass.
Do you think Mr Kumar compromised with ideology when he broke the alliance with the RJD-Congress Mahagathbandhan and joined the BJP in 2017?
I think Mr Kumar used ideology to justify his political interactions and switches. And now instead of being guided by ideology, it has become an instrument for him to gain his political purposes. Therefore, after having opposed the BJP and Narendra Modi from 2013 to 2017, after opposing the BJP and after saying that he wants a “Sangh Mukt Bharat”, after saying that “Mitti mein mil jaaonga par saath nahin jaoonga”… when the BJP was under Mr Modi, whom he had called Hitler and a fascist, Mr Kumar suddenly became an ally of that party again.
Did your problems with the party begin then?
My problems began with Mr Kumar from then (2017) onwards as I believe that the policies and directions of the BJP were not in sync with the ideologies and principle for which Mr Kumar and our party stands for. What is more important is that even after having joined the BJP in 2017, Mr Kumar continued to harbour reservations about the BJP and its leadership and even came to the point where he almost ditched the BJP to rejoin the Congress.
When was this? Why did it not materialise?
In 2018. In my view it did not happen as the BJP got wind of what could have transpired and came to a seat arrangement, which was acceptable to Mr Kumar. Because whether it is the BJP or the Congress, he was not being guided by ideology but by the possibility of short-term political gains. Having achieved it with the BJP then, the Congress was not important for him. The important point is that he was willing to go with the Congress even while being with the BJP.
Since 2018, has there been any other discussion in the party on switching sides?
On several occasions, not on public platforms but privately at smaller party fora or when with party leaders, Mr Kumar had expressed reservations about the BJP leadership and about its policies.
Do you think the JD(U) as a party is split wide open in the matter of remaining in the NDA?
Right now, Mr Kumar is surrounded by a coterie of people for whom political benefit is not the greater but the only motive. If they see their bread and butter, position and power with the BJP, they will advise him to remain with the BJP. What saddens me is that Mr Kumar has become far from being the leader who took decisions based on what he considered right both for the party and the country. He has accepted becoming a passive accessory of the BJP, in order to possibly retain the chief minister’s post after the elections later this year.
Do you think Mr Kumar betrayed socialist ideology as well?
Mr Kumar cannot be accused of betrayal because in the first place he never had any loyalty to any ideology except the ideology of short-term political gains. He merely changed tactics in order to use political situations to remain in power and somehow hold on to the CM’s chair in Bihar.
Some people in the party say that both you and Prashant Kishor have no connection with ground realities as you have never won an election on your own.
Neither of us… I certainly can’t speak about Mr Kishor, to whom you can talk separately. I never ever claimed the need or the opportunity to fight an election in order to prove my political worth to Mr Kumar. I was the person who became his voice nationally and catapulted him from being a promising regional leader, to becoming an important personality on an almost a daily basis on the national level. Every party has people with different roles. What I have done for the JD(U) in terms of its manifesto, its ideological line and above all projecting Mr Kumar nationally, is something that was my role. If my role was of no benefit to Mr Kumar or the party, then why did he send me to the Rajya Sabha and why subsequently he made me the national general secretary and the national spokesperson of the party? There are several leaders, including Mr Kumar himself, who have not fought an election for the last 15 years. There are many leaders like the late Arun Jaitely and others who may not wish to or fight elections on the ground but contribute to the party significantly.
What role can we expect to see you in next? Are you joining the Congress?
I will do what I believe is right for my country. I would make my position at the right time. I am not in talks with any political party. Right now, I am deeply introspecting on what are the best things for my country for which I can make my contributions.