As the election campaign enters the last lap, Karakat constituency in Bihar is set to witness a fierce contest between sitting MP and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha and JD (U) leader Mahabali Singh on May 19. It is deemed as a ‘prestigious battle’ for both the parties as Kushwaha is recontesting as a Grand Alliance nominee this time. In the 2014 general election, Kushwaha contested as an NDA candidate and won the seat by defeating RJD’s Kanti Singh by a margin of one lakh votes. Mahabali Singh stood at the third position. Kushwaha, a key ally of BJP-led NDA, left the coalition last year citing neglect from the leadership. RLSP later joined hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)—which is leading the Grand Alliance in Bihar.
Speaking to Outlook, Kushwaha said that his party will stay with Grand Alliance and will support Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate.
You are contesting from two seats-Karakat and Ujiarpur. How do you react to the allegations that you have chosen two seats because you are lacking confidence?
I am extremely confident of winning both the seats. I want to teach a lesson to both the BJP and JD(U). In Karakat, I am fighting against a JD(U) candidate whereas in Ujjawar, my opponent is BJP candidate Nityanand Rai. Another reason is that Rai challenged me to contest against him in Ujjawar and I accepted the challenge.
But both you and Rai were friends and worked together in 2014 elections when you were part of the NDA.
That’s a different thing. It’s a political battle.
With one phase of elections left, leaders of opposition parties are already in talks about post-poll alliances to form next government. What is your party’s stand?
Our stand is very clear. My party is with the Grand Alliance and will stay so. We want Rahul Gandhi as the prime minister and there is no dispute to it. I am confident that Grand Alliance will play a crucial role in forming the government at the Centre.
You deserted NDA to join Grand Alliance last year. Will you switch over to NDA if they cross the threshold to form the next government at the Centre?
There is no question of going back to the NDA fold now.
JD(U) has come up with the demand of special status to Bihar in the last lap of election. How do you see this?
After six phases, now Nitish Kumar knows that he is losing the elections. That’s why he has taken up the special status demand now. They were not talking about it all these while. Voters are not going to fall for it. Our stand was very clear. We need special status for the development of the state.
What is the sense you are getting from the ground after six phases of elections?
It’s clear that Grand alliance is winning 90 per cent of the constituencies.
There were reports of rumblings in the Grand Alliance on many issues. Has it affected the winning prospects of the alliance?
We didn’t have any differences. In reality, NDA allies suffer from more internal conflicts than us. There were demands from some JD(U) leaders to make Nitish Kumar the prime minister. One JD(U) leader even openly said that Narendra Modi won’t become the prime minister after this election.
The BJP government has introduced 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward upper castes. Do you think it will give advantage to the party?
Their effort was to woo the young people who are disenchanted with the party for not giving them jobs. The BJP introduced this to garner votes from the youth. Upper caste community is aware of their intention and they know that reservation wouldn’t bring jobs. The government is not creating any jobs.
PM’s radar and cloud comments on Balakot airstrikes created a stir. Your comments
The whole world is laughing at our country because of Prime Minister’s claims on Balakot strike and his cloud comments. He also made scathing attack on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which was not in good taste.