R P N Singh, All India Congress Committee’s Jharkhand in-charge, tells The Indian Express that the party is confident of winning the state polls in alliance with JMM and RJD, while most of the BJP’s allies are going on their own. Excerpts:
The battle lines have been drawn in Jharkhand. Your alliance is final and seat-sharing is sorted. How confident are you?
The BJP kept attacking our alliance. They kept asking questions. Now we have strategically announced our alliance — JMM, Congress and RJD — and it is the only alliance in place. The BJP keeps talking about alliances but it seems the NDA is completely decimated all over the country.
From Uttar Pradesh to Maharashtra, and now we are seeing that unfolding in Jharkhand. The JD(U) and LJP are nowhere in the alliance. They are fighting separately. There is a huge problem on the AJSU front. Even if some alliance in a loose way is formed ...the reality is that the BJP can’t keep its house in order.
Why did you not include Babulal Marandi’s JVM in your alliance? Will it not lead to vote division?
We continued reaching out to him. We were in talks with him, as also our alliance partners, but he has made up his mind to contest alone. We tried our level best; it did not work out.
The Congress is playing second fiddle to JMM. Is that a signal that the party is not the prime player in Jharkhand?
If you look at Jharkhand politically, in the Assembly we were not the prime player. We are this time in an alliance where no one gave us more than 22-23 seats (out of 81). We are contesting in 31 seats. It is a process of building the party. We contested the nagar palika and nagar nigam elections independently, and we did extremely well in that.
Our performance in Lok Sabha elections (in Jharkhand) was also extremely encouraging. Regardless of the BJP wave in North India, the Congress did quite well. We only managed to win one but lost one seat by just 1,400 votes, which we have challenged in court... there has been a momentum in favour of the Congress.
Three former state Congress presidents, Ajoy Kumar, Sukhdeo Bhagat and Pradeep Balmuchu have left the party.
They were all workers. People are made leaders by the party and when they left the party, they are back to being workers. So the post is important because the party makes you something. I do not want to speak about individuals, but everything was offered to these people.
In the event of a hung verdict, would you be willing to do business with AJSU or Marandi’s JVM?
Our alliance is extremely confident of forming the government because BJP and AJSU were in power for five years and they are equally to blame for the kind of mess Jharkhand is in, and the anger the people feel.
How will the Ayodhya verdict play out on ground?
We must salute the people of the country. They have accepted it very well.... I think that is an issue which has finally been closed by Supreme Court.