A year before the Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s central leadership has bet on 54-year-old Samrat Choudhary by making him Bihar BJP president. At his residence in Patna, Samrat Choudhary spoke to Organiser Special Correspondent Nishant Kumar Azad, in which he claimed that ‘Lalu-Nitish era’ is over and the saffron party will form the next Government in Bihar. He also levelled serious charges against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, claiming that his party is earning Rs 10,000 crores from the liquor mafias in the State. On the issue of OBC vote bank, he said people don’t trust Nitish Kumar anymore. Luv Kush (OBC Kurmi-Koeri) votes are entirely with devotees of Bhagwan Ram i.e. BJP. Excerpts:
Your political career started with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Later you joined Janata Dal (United) and now you are in BJP. Interestingly, very soon, you have been elevated as Bihar BJP president.
For the last 28 years, I have been working in Bihar politics, and my politics started by making Nitish Kumar Chief Minister of Bihar. My father was the founder of the Samata Party with George Fernandes but, due to some ideological differences with Nitish Kumar, we took a different path. During that period, Lalu Prasad Yadav targeted my family and 22 members of the family, including me, were sent to jail.
I served as vice president of Bihar BJP, Minister in the Bihar Government, and now Opposition leader. I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave me the responsibility of Bihar. Strengthening the organisation in the State is my Dharma.
What are your plans for two back-to-back elections, the Parliamentary elections in 2024 and the Bihar Assembly elections in 2025?
The people of Bihar love Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They have already seen 33 years of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar’s Governments. Before them, Congress was in power in the State. Still, the State is backward. Now Bihar needs a change.
The State has both quantity and quality but sadly we can’t even collect 20 per cent of the budget. Once, we had the large number of sugar mills. But it’s finished now. Initially, under NDA, the State witnessed development. However, since 2013, Nitish Kumar is only saving his Government, nothing else. It is time to bring back the lost glory of Bihar.
My priorities are getting maximum seats in the State in 2024, parliamentary elections and forming the next Government in Bihar by winning the Assembly elections in 2025.
Nitish Kumar often says he is against crime, corruption and communalism. However, if we look at the last ten years of data, we can see the condition of the crime in the State and his association with the persons involved in corruption. There are allegations against Deputy CM and his family’s involvement in the job scam.
Except Nitish Kumar, you will not find any politician in the country who compromises so much in politics.Here, I will agree with Lalu Prasad Yadav, who called him ‘Paltu Kumar’. There were less than 1000 liquor shops in Bihar when Rabri Devi was the Chief Minister. However, by 2010 about 12,000 liquor shops opened in the State. Nitish Kumar has made the people of Bihar liquor addicts. Liquor has reached every household; a bottle of liquor that used to be sold at Rs 300-400 is now being illegally sold at Rs 1200-1500. Nitish Kumar and his party is getting about Rs 10,000 crores from the illegal liquor sale. He has given the State into the hands of liquor and
This is a big allegation. You were in alliance with Nitish Kumar for a long time; even when liquor was banned in the State, the BJP was in alliance with JDU. Why did you not raise this issue then?
We used to raise this issue in the Cabinet at that time also. Nitish Kumar is responsible for everything as he was leading the Government. He wanted to run the Government as per his convenience.
Since Nitish Kumar left BJP, he has been trying to unite the Opposition against BJP and Prime Minister Modi. Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav are saying, Communal Sarkar Hatao, Constitution Bachao.
See, Bhagwan Ram is our ancestor. Baba Saheb Ambedkar revered Bhagwan Ram so much so that he put his portrait on the first page of Constitution. BJP follows the path shown by Maryada Purshottam. Still, if Nitish Kumar thinks that BJP is communal, then we have nothing to say.
“Nitish Kumar and his party is getting about Rs 10,000 crores from liquor mafias. He has given the State into the hands of liquor and sand mafias”
Last time in 2014, he got two seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Now, he is dreaming to become Prime Minister; this time, he will get ‘zero’ seats. Interestingly, Opposition still does not know who their leader is. BJP is going to form the Government in the country in 2024 and in Bihar in 2025.
Recently, Tejashwi Yadav said that he would stop BJP’s Vijay Rath.
We defeated Lalu Yadav in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2019, and 2020. He managed to win in 2015 because of Nitish Kumar. The people of Bihar have already seen Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar for 33 years. The people of the State want development, not corruption, crime, sand and liquor smugglers. BJP does not believe in compromising with criminals. Bihar needs sushasan in real sense.
You talked about goondas and mafias. Recently due to a change in jail rule by the Nitish Kumar Government, a total of 27 criminals, comprising Anand Mohan Singh, were released from jail. What would you say about this?
In 2016, Nitish Kumar amended the law and included that those found guilty of killing a Government official will never be given the benefit of remission. Now again he made U-Turn. We all know that the person you are talking about was trapped by Lalu Yadav and was put behind the bars for the last 16 years by Nitish Kumar. This step was taken for political benefits.
Many a times, Tejashwi Yadav alleges of vendetta politics and being targeted by central agencies at the behest of BJP.
Tejashwi should look into history. Lalu Yadav went to jail during the period of HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral, when they were Prime Ministers. Both of them became Prime Ministers with the support of Janata Dal, which Lalu Yadav belonged to. Corruption is in the blood of Lalu Yadav’s family. Tejashwi must remember that Nitish Kumar used to describe Lalu Yadav as a ‘registered criminal.’
“Tejashwi should look into history. Lalu Yadav went to Jail during the period of HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral, when they were Prime Ministers. Both of them became Prime Ministers with the support of Janata Dal, which Lalu Yadav belonged to”
Caste arithmetic plays a vital role in Bihar politics, as we have seen this in 2015 when Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar came together. How BJP is going to deal with it in the coming polls?
See, in the recently concluded three by-elections in the State, the ‘Luv-Kush’ vote, which used to be earlier with Nitish Kumar, came to BJP. Even on Mokama seat, there was only an increase of 1,000 votes in favour of RJD. Therefore, it’s time for Nitish Kumar to take rest. People don’t trust Nitish Kumar anymore. Luv Kush votes are entirely with devotees of Bhagwan Ram i.e. BJP.
Chirag Paswan left the NDA alliance before Bihar Assembly polls and later Mukesh Shahni also left the alliance. Now, one can see Chirag’s closeness with BJP. Even Chirag campaigned for BJP in by-elections. Recently, Upendra Kushwaha also met Home Minister Amit Shah. Does your party see them as its potential allies?
It is up to the BJP central leadership to take a call on the possibilities of them being our allies. They are looking into the structuring of NDA. But, I can say that Nitish Kumar has no votes now. Here, I agree that Lalu Yadav still has votes. Lalu is the leading player, not Nitish Kumar. The fact is that Nitish Kumar always needs a leader. Instead of choosing someone from his party, he is promoting yuvraj (Tejashwi) who is from the other party.
Do you see yourself as the CM face of BJP in Bihar?
I am only a karyakarta and focusing on the responsibility given to me. My only motive is to defeat Nitish Kumar in the coming elections and make Bihar a better State. However, I would like to say that every single worker of BJP in Bihar can be Chief Ministerial candidate.