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Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: PM can’t even account for 2 lakh jobs, forget 20 crore, says Manoj Kumar Jha

Updated on: 26 May,2024 07:00 AM IST  |  Patna
Diwakar Sharma |

RJD spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha says that focus should be on real issues such as employment and inflation; asks public to not fall for ‘jungle raaj’ stereotypes

Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: PM can’t even account for 2 lakh jobs, forget 20 crore, says Manoj Kumar Jha

Pic/Diwakar Sharma

The national spokesperson for Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Rajya Sabha Member Prof Manoj Kumar Jha, known for his impassioned oratory, engaged with mid-day on several pertinent issues concerning Bihar. He reiterated the pressing need for granting special status to Bihar to address the challenges of deteriorating infrastructure including health, judicial, education, flood-affected belt, etc. In his 30-minute discourse, he directed criticism towards BJP heavyweights by evoking the 2002 Gujarat riots, countering the ‘jungle raj’ label associated with Bihar during Lalu Prasad Yadav’s regime. 
Edited excerpts from an interview:

Who is your prime ministerial candidate?
Manoj Jha: We, the people of India…that’s the prime ministerial candidate. Did we know in 2004 who will be the prime minister? This Constitution does not talk about face. Prime minister is the first minister in the cabinet, that’s it! If you weave a narrative around an individual, that individual will become a dictator.

Young Indians are worried about their future because there aren’t adequate vacancies in government sectors. How will RJD or the INDIA bloc address this ticking bomb?
Frankly speaking, our main agenda in Bihar, and largely for INDIA bloc at the national level, has been around jobs. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, when he campaigned for BJP in 2014, had promised two crore jobs per year, which is now 20 crore jobs (in the last 10 years). He cannot give data on even two lakhs, forget 20 crore. It is the reason the youth is utterly frustrated today. They have no future to look forward to. What can they do? They have no other option. 

Unfortunately, again, the Prime Minister does not talk about employment and economic social justice. He is not talking about these issues. Instead, he is indulging in discourses such as “Bijli kaat dega, bhains khol lega, mangalsutra, etc” which further frustrates the youth because, as of now, India is looking at its most difficult period in the history of unemployment. 

There are 30 lakh vacancies, and you are not filling these posts. And there is the possibility to create more jobs; Tejashwi ji prepared a blueprint to create one crore jobs in one go. You need political will and commitment to the ethos of this book called the Indian Constitution, but it is completely lacking in BJP’s ideology, philosophy as well as their campaign strategy. That’s why when I see a worried youth, I get equally worried.

We will not let the Prime Minister move away from the core issues such as jobs, inflation, giving one lakh rupees per year to poor women, reducing LPG price, recruiting for the Railways and Agniveer. If the INDIA bloc is given a mandate, we will resolve these issues.

How will you address farmers’ issues?
First of all, farmers of different scale have varying issues. Relatively big farmers have separate sets of issues; small and marginal farmers have separate sets of issues, and agricultural labourers have a separate set of issues. But there are some issues in common. Let’s call MSP Maximum Support Prices, not ‘minimum’ for more than 10 to 15 crops across states. Secondly, [lets forge] a straight relationship by ensuring that farmers get every support in time at a subsidised rate.

All infrastructures, including health, education, judicial are crumbling in Bihar. North Bihar is completely devastated every monsoon. What’s the reason?
The biggest challenge Lalu ji faced during his regime was to set a social order because of the grammar of dominance. A kind of feudal arrangement was extremely prevalent in Bihar; he unsettled this. People who had never voted since 1952, began voting. Analyse political parties and their structures before and after 1990, and you will find that BJP had a different kind of leadership [then]. 

UPA 1 came to power in 2005 onwards, and Lalu ji was the cabinet minister. He ensured that investment came to Bihar. Road networks were widened— Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was the Rural Development minister and Laluji was the Railway minister. Today we have two Railway factories— Madhepura and Chhapra—in Bihar.

Bihar was practically left with no sustainable resource revenue after the bifurcation of the state. And since then, we have been demanding special status. We are not holding a begging bowl, we have been demanding our right. Our nation cannot progress unless you address Bihar’s concerns. The state needs special attention. Everyone is happy that Bihar supplies maximum number of labourers to Mumbai, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu... But what are we getting? This state has simultaneously witnessed drought and flood. We need a Central state at a massive scale. 

What do you have to say about ‘jungle raaj’ for which Bihar was infamous during RJD regime?
Have you checked the social profiles of these netas you are quoting? Have you checked the NCRB data during our regime and subsequently? Don’t fall victim to these stereotypes. Somebody pees on the face of a human in Madhya Pradesh, but why does nobody call it ‘jungle raaj’? This is a typical caste lens to view leaders from Dalit and backward communities. 
Kidnapping was an industry during Lalu Prasad Yadav’s regime. How would you woo voters today? 
Can a popular leader ever support a ‘kidnapping industry’? Lalu ji is a mass leader. Modiji is scared of him because of his popularity. He changed the narrative in north India. The dominance of five per cent of the population went down, and they are still hurting. What would you call Mr Amit Shah and Mr (Narendra) Modi’s regime? People have not forgotten 2002 [Gujarat riots].

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