All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) president Sudesh Mahto speaks to The Indian Express on the state of the alliance with BJP
The ruling alliance is walking a tight rope now. What did you bargain for?
During my talks with BJP leaders, I laid down the grounds on which we should fight the election. The party’s strength was the basis...I gave a list of 20 constituencies to the BJP Jharkhand in-Charge. Later, I gave a final list of 17 candidates stating that we are strong in those areas.
What led your party to field candidates in seats being contested by BJP?
The BJP brought out a list before conclusive talks, before we could sort things out... BJP fielded candidates where we are strong... candidates were called from outside and given tickets...BJP has not even responded to our list.
There is a perception that you want to bargain hard with BJP against the backdrop of the situation in Maharashtra and the results in the recent Assembly polls.
That I don’t know. The question is whether the BJP wants to fight with their ally or the Opposition. This, BJP has to decide. Our party cannot be compared to Shiv Sena...we have been with NDA for 19 years...We were ridiculed by the Opposition, but we have been with NDA.
Is the alliance on?
Yes, the alliance is there. Neither we are denying it nor the BJP.
Where does your party's ideology match with that of BJP?
Under former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jharkhand received statehood. I respect them for this and that is why they have been an ally. That is why we never crossed the Laxman rekha.
What is the Laxman rekha?
That we never hurt anyone.
But you have hurt them by being an opposition within the party?
No, we have raised issues of the public. And the party will seek votes from the same people. Also, the government took a U-turn on issues we raised. So we were not wrong.