Recently four Janta Dal(U) leaders were terminated from the party; the allegation was that they were involved in anti-party activities; One of them was Dr. Ajay Alok, the former spokesperson of JD(U). In an exclusive interview with Organiser National News Coordinator Nishant Kumar Azad, Dr Ajay Alok spoke on a range of issues, from liquor ban to caste-based census to BJP-JDU alliance. Excerpts:
After the termination from JD(U), you made a sarcastic comment “Badi der kardi huzoor aate aate” that was lapped up by the media. What was the reason for that statement?
I have been removed from the spokesperson twice in the party, and again party reinstated me when they needed me. So, I was sick and tired of this use and throw business. So, it’s better to be thrown out once and for all. So, I said, Badi der kardi huzoor aate aate. They should’ve done it one year earlier because they were not satisfied with the stance I was taking, which was in Bihar’s interest and the nation’s interest. It was relieving for me because for the last two years, what has been happening in the party, I was not comfortable with, and I guess, with my line, the party was not comfortable. So, it’s better that we parted ways. I had spent good enough eight to nine years with the party, so I don’t have any regrets; rather, I’m relieved.
You had stated that the party was uncomfortable with your stand on many issues. You spoke in favour of triple talaq, scrapping of Article 370 and the recent Agnipath scheme, while JD(U)’s line was different from yours?
No, many other things were also there. Like during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the people with Tablighi Jamaat mindset were spitting on health workers and police, I just said that shoot at sight order should be given to all those people endangering the health and lives of those workers who are saving lives. My statement didn’t go well with the party. When the disturbances took place across the country on BJP former spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s statement, and there were protests, I said that strict action should be taken against those who are burning government properties. So, all these things they thought were not in line with the party. And if that’s not the party line, then I’m good; I’m not with that party. Now let’s talk about Article 370. JDU is supposed to be a Samajwadi party; it follows socialism. Anybody who follows socialism, how can he support this controversial article?
JDU is supposed to be a Samajwadi party; it follows socialism. Anybody who follows socialism, cannot take stand against removal of Article 370. Similarly, on the issue of Triple talaq, on one side, JD(U) claimed to be a champion of women’s causes and on another side, the party was against banning it
Similarly, on the issue of Triple talaq, on one side, JD(U) claimed to be a champion of women’s causes and on another side, the party was against banning it. We have given 33 per cent reservation in jobs to women for the first time in the country, we have given 50 per cent reservation in local bodies elections. And on the issue of triple talaq, which is such a heinous crime to women, the party opposed it.
When liquor was banned in Bihar, one of the reasons given by the Government was to lessen the domestic violence against women. According to NCRB data 2020, the crime against women increased from 2004 to 2019. What’s your take on this?
Crime has increased, police inefficiency has increased because they are more focused and pressurised to check on prohibition, and many lucrative deals are also there. So, this has led to chaos. Prohibition is not at all effective in Bihar.
But the Government is thumping its chest on the issue.
They have banned it, but it’s available. A parallel economy of twenty five thousand crores is thriving in the State. The liquor mafia is growing. Arrests have been made from Punjab, Haryana, everywhere, every corner of the country, still we are not able to check it. The Government is obsessed with prohibition. It’s politically not viable. Economically, it is terrible; you have created a parallel economy. A State like Bihar has lost revenue of around 1.5 lakh crores. You have invested additional thirty thousand crores in implementing prohibition; what for? It doesn’t make any sense to me. So, when I said these things in the Government, I was told to shut up. And I was told, wherever the message is supposed to go, it has gone.
The liquor mafia is growing. A parallel economy of Rs 25,000 crores is thriving in the State. A State like Bihar has lost revenue of around Rs 1.5 lakh crores with additional investment of Rs 30,000 crores in implementing prohibition. Prohibition is not at all effective in the State
This statement “wherever the message is supposed to go, it has gone” who are ‘them’?
For him, women are ‘them’. For him, Muslims are ‘them’. Liquor is banned in Islam; the message has gone to them; it’s done.
So, you mean to say that the agenda behind banning liquor was to appease Muslims?
That is also not working. Had that worked, it would have made sense. This is the problem.
You have been one of the close associates of Nitish Kumar. You are now saying that everything is done just for appeasement politics.
In this whole process, we have lost Hindus also. JDU had never gained Muslim votes even when we broke away from BJP in 2013. In 2014, they, en block, voted for Congress and RJD. We always thought of getting Muslims into our fold. We continued our softness towards Muslims, but Muslims never voted for us, and this continued softness towards Muslims led to Hindu alienation. We know the result of the 2020 elections, and today the situation is that you have neither Hindus nor Muslims.
So you want to say that Nitish Kumar lost his sheen after his first successful five years?
See, JDU has been in power since 2005. For seventeen long years, he has been Chief Minister; before that, he was Union Cabinet Minister. Nitish Kumar is one person in the country who has been in power for the last 22 years, and still, JDU cannot muster up the courage to fight an election alone or form a government independently, so where is the sheen? 2010 was the ideal situation when we could have contested alone, but we didn’t. 2015 was another perfect situation where we could have contested with Congress, but we went for RJD. Nobody thinks of expanding and strengthening the party, and that only comes when you taste the tough waters, which means fighting the election alone. We tried doing it once in the 2014 Parliamentary election but later fought with CPI-CPI(M). We only contested 33 seats. So JDU never contested the election alone.
Nitish Kumar, in almost all speeches, talks about ‘jungle raj’. But if we see the recent data, in the last five years, the State has witnessed political murders, broad daylight murders of businessmen. So, can we say that jungle raj is returning to Bihar?
See, it is a politics of convenience. You talk ‘jungle raj’ because you want to remind people of the rule before 2005. But you forget that politics is ever-evolving and very dynamic. Tomorrow, if you ally with the same jungle, where goes the jungle raj? And now, being in power for the last 17 years, we have to show people what we have done in the last five years, not what happened 15 years ago. Seventeen years ago, when we came to power, today’s voter, who is a 19-year-old, was just two. He doesn’t have the memory of jungle raj; he has a memory of these 15 years, and he will vote based on these 15 years. And don’t forget, the voter group of 18 to 30 in Bihar comprises the maximum number of 2.8 crores. So, what we are doing for them is important; frankly, we are not doing anything for them. Unfortunately, we are just concentrating on prohibition.
The entire focus of the administration is on sand and alcohol. Here the problem lies. The whole system is in jeopardy
After the liquor ban, the consumption of the drug has increased on a massive scale.
It was bound to happen. When Haryana Chief Minister Bansi Lal imposed prohibition, we saw drug abuse increase in Haryana and Punjab. Even after lifting the ban, this drug abuse continued for years; it spoiled the entire generation. This always happens. And this is what’s happening in Bihar. In 2016, we had a seizure of ganja (weed) of around 17,000 kgs, and in 2021, we seized 1,70,000 kgs of ganja, so that is the difference. And forget about ganja; charas, brown sugar, the youth are getting into it. Not only consuming, but they are also peddling it.
Do you think that Government is dealing with this issue seriously?
Had they been serious, this would not have happened. The entire focus of the administration is on sand and alcohol. Here the problem lies.
There is a public perception about the BJP-JDU alliance that both parties are uncomfortable with each other.
The recent Agnipath protests and attacks on the BJP leaders’ houses make it clear that the coalition is under stress. First time in the history of India, the houses of alliance partners in the Government were attacked, and the police were sitting mute. The Centre has given security to two Deputy Chief Ministers for the first time. All this has never happened anywhere. This occurs only in Bihar.
First time in the history of India, the houses of alliance partners in the Government were attacked, and the police were sitting mute. The Centre has given security to two Deputy Chief Ministers for the first time. All this has never happened anywhere. This occurs only in Bihar
Let’s talk about the caste-based census. A few months ago, all the parties came together and allocated the fund of 500 crores for census with back-to-back meetings. But there were no meetings when the State was burning because of Agnipath protests.
See, the Opposition took it as bait to belittle Narendra Modi’s Government without understanding the benefits of Agnipath. So, by spreading the rumours, they tried to create chaos in the country. The states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh send the maximum numbers in Army. These people are a bit sentimental about it. So this chaos happened. And the administration didn’t go strict with it the first day. They never anticipated this kind of violence.
Now, look at what is happening with the Agnipath scheme. The record number of applicants the forces have received. Until now, the Army never received such an application and servers are getting crashed. When the people knew about the scheme in detail, the anger immediately subsided, and these political elements who tried to incite the people were exposed thoroughly.
Secondly, on the caste-based census, what will they do after that? They have allocated 500 crores. If the Caste census is done and we get the data, what will the State Government do after that? What provision in the Constitution does the State have? The Center has to do it; even if you want to change the reservation formula, how will the State do it? All this is optics to show that you are with the backward castes.
So it’s all just for the backward vote bank.
It is a consolidation of vote bank, nothing else. Nothing’s going to happen; the Government will waste 500 crores. The status of castes will also be known.
The present population of Bihar is around 13 crores. When Nitish Kumar took power in 2005, the population was nine crores; now, after 17 years, the population has increased by 40 per cent. Has anyone noticed the demographic change in Seemanchal? The Government claims that the fertility rate in Bihar has decreased from 3.3 crores to 2.9 crores but is still much greater than the national average of 2.1. So, you are not paying attention to the basic problem. When the population increases, poverty will increase.
Around 52 per cent of Bihar’s population is below the poverty line. His one obsession will take him away from all other things. I have great respect for him, and he has done a lot. He is honest and does the work as well, but now his half-life is complete; everything has a half-life.
Now Bihar needs a dynamic, energetic and progressive mentality, people and leadership. Nitish ji has done his bit; I think it’s time now.
When Nitish Kumar took power in 2005, the population was nine crores; now, after 17 years, the population has increased by 40 per cent. Has anyone noticed the demographic change in Seemanchal? The Government claims that the fertility rate in Bihar has decreased from 3.3 crores to 2.9 crores but is still much greater than the national average of 2.1.
If we talk about the education and public recruitment sector, there is no example of enhancement under Nitish in the last 15 years. According to a Niti Aayog report, over 30 states and UTs are performing better in the gross enrollment ratio in higher education.
See, in higher education, we have opened up many medical colleges, business colleges, and agricultural universities. We have all the hardware, but the software is missing. Every district has an ITI. We have a Law Institute; we have agricultural universities, but we don’t have teachers. How does the hardware operate if you don’t have the necessary software?
Let me give you another example. The State purchased around 3000 ventilators from the Prime Minister’s fund during the pandemic. We had ventilators around 2000. So, 5000 ventilators were in the State, which were distributed in the districts, but there were no operators. There were no technicians to operate. How will the ventilators operate?
Still, we have done a tremendous job in Corona as far as Bihar health infrastructure is concerned. Touchwood, the immunity of the Bihar people, is very high, so they came out of it. But the software inclusion must be in totality if you start a project. You have not made a single doctor’s appointment through regular channels. Whenever the Medical Council of India (MCI) comes to inspect medical colleges, they say that you don’t have the capacity. A fully enrolled professor has not entered PMCH in the last 20 years. This is the State. Sometimes there’s a BPSC paper leak, sometimes any other thing. So, the approach of the Government is very confusing and is not hitting the target. This is the problem. The intention is good; execution is not.
You talked about execution and also the leakage of BPSC papers. This has been consistent.
BPSC papers and sometimes Inter paper. The Government has tried to straighten things, but somehow, it’s not getting controlled. The whole system is in jeopardy. The intention is there; execution is missing. Secondly, if the mutual trust between the alliance parties is not there, the bureaucracy won’t function. The voice of the Government is not going well with the bureaucracy, and that’s why execution is terrible.
You want to say that it is because of uncomfortable allies State is suffering.
Yes, 101 per cent. Uncomfortable allies with centralisation of power. The bureaucrats don’t listen to the ministers; the files are not being signed. If a transfer is made, there are allegations that many under-table transactions happened. All this reflects utter chaos and confusion in the Government.
After the successful first five years, what happened with Nitish Kumar’s brand as a Sushasan Babu?
In 2012-13, he decided to part ways with the BJP because he was uncomfortable with Narendra Modi. We got poorly defeated in 2014. But then the Manjhi episode came up. He made him CM, but he betrayed him. In 2015, the compulsion of existence led to a combination of RJD and JDU. He forgot the Jungle Raj. But when the Government formed, Jungle Raj’s reflection began to come up. When police stations were being called by Lalu Prasad Yadav, his sons, daughters, and everybody started manoeuvring things. These things Nitish Kumar cannot take.
Secondly, those were not the guys who would listen to Nitish Kumar. So, the alliance broke out. The JDU core voters started getting irritated with the RJD Style of functioning. So, if he had not parted ways then, JDU would have miserably suffered. So, he had to take this call to change the alliance again. This BJP is not the same BJP that Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani’s BJP was. The approach is very clinical. That’s why I’m surprised why they are letting Bihar suffer. The policies of Narendra Modi-led BJP is very clear. So, this troubles Nitish Kumar. Somewhere down the line, he is not comfortable.
BJP should take the lead alone to make Bihar’s future better. If PM Modi can change the North-East, then he can change Bihar too.
Will he change the side again and join hands with RJD?
Anything is possible in politics; I won’t be surprised.
Now you are not in JDU. What are the chances of joining another party?
Right now, I’m in no party. In due course, I will decide which is a good party for me.
In due course, I will decide where to go and where not to go. I’m working for the people, and I’ll keep raising people’s voices on the various concerns. Being a Bihari, being a doctor, I always think that my State should grow. Because of the kind of intelligence my State has and the kind of human resources we have, I guess none of the states in India has this kind of human resources. Unfortunately, the proper utilisation of human resources is not being done in Bihar. Why don’t we have any industries? Why there is no industrial environment?
The bureaucrats don’t listen to the ministers; the files are not being signed. If a transfer is made, there are allegations that many under-table transactions happened. All this reflects utter chaos and confusion in the Government
You talked about the industrial environment. The State organised its Investors summit in Delhi.
Yeah, that summit happened in Delhi. It should have happened in Patna. See, you have to market your cause, and the leader always does the marketing. Shahnawaz Hussain has been trying very hard to get people to Bihar to invest. He has succeeded also. 33-35,000 crores investment have been promised, but to market that thing effectively, you need to have a good team led by the leader. But the leader is not doing anything. That’s why I’m saying. There’s confusion. In State, people consider Chief Minister a leader. How did Narendra Modi change Gujarat? There was a single window system. People can directly approach him without any bureaucratic hassles. So, this kind of approach should be there. Then only industries will come.
For the better future of Bihar, which party would be better?
BJP should take the lead alone to make Bihar’s future better. With new dynamic leaders and the agenda of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the party can go forward. If he (PM Modi) can change the North East, then he can change Bihar too. The whole of Bihar is waiting for this leap, including me.