Giridih: In an exclusive interview with eNewsroom, Babulal Marandi, the first Chief Minister of Jharkhand claims that he is an admirer of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The words have great significance, as 61-year-old Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (JVM) chief is considered a seasoned politician. Marandi has been four-time Member of Parliament (MP) and also a Union Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. Marandi, who formed JVM after quitting Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be bowled over by Rahul Gandhi’s simplicity, also feels that PM Narendra Modi should abstain from making fun of the Gandhi scion. With Lok Sabha election round the corner, Marandi talked at length. Following are the excerpts of the engaging conversation that covered right from Rahul Gandhi, his party’s fight against forcible land acquisition for the Adani Power in Godda, and the status of the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) post-Pulwama attack:
eNewsroom: How much faith do you have on Congress President Rahul Gandhi?
Babulal: When we are forming the Mahagathbandan with the Congress, which is the largest and oldest party, we accepted its leader Rahul Gandhi, as the Gathbandhan’s leader too.
On a personal level, I have watched him closely to arrive at this understanding that Rahul Gandhi thinks about the country, about the common man and the poor. His lifestyle is very simple and wherever he goes, he appears to be like one of the common man. There is no show off even during press conferences and he definitely tries to connect them. So I think such young leaders should be supported. If an alliance happens then it will be good. And in these many years I have assessed that what he says, he does it.
eNewsroom: Recently at an event in India’s premier engineering institute, Prime Minister Narendra Modi poked fun at Rahul Gandhi, on the pretext of asking a question to one of the innovators working on a programme that can help Dyslexic children. How do you see it, especially when you have just admitted that you admire Rahul Gandhi’s simplicity?
Babulal: I always have maintained that be it Modi ji or anybody else, we should not criticize others. Everyone has their own style of speaking, reading and doing things, everyone has their own uniqueness. Earlier people used to address him as Pappu and Yuvraj too, which is wrong in democracy.
He comes from such a family background where Motilal Nehru was a lawyer, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was also a qualified lawyer and served the nation as its Prime Minister. Trimurti Bhavan is a living example of their legacy.
What I mean to say is, even after coming from such royal background he still leads a simple life. Wherever I saw him, be it at the Parliament or anywhere else, I have found him being humble.
Even being in politics and at this age, he did not try to look different but tried to connect with the common man. At least in this matter, I am a fan of him.
His personality should not be made fun of, he can be criticized for the wrong decisions he takes. Even I can or will oppose things which I will not like.
Watch Babulal Marandi speaking about Rahul Gandhi and on Air Strikes:
eNewsroom: Your party has been fighting against the forcible land acquisition in Godda by the government for Adani Power Plant. Several JVM leaders have gone to the jail for protesting against it, but the Jharkhand government has not just supported it but has also declared the entire power plant area as an SEZ (Special Economic Zone). How you see it?
Babulal: We have fought a lot, both on the road and inside the assembly. But the government has planned to support Adani power plant. However, it was because of our opposition that they have managed to acquire only 500 acres of land, they actually had planned to acquire 2000 acres of land. The compensation amount was earlier reduced to Rs 3.5 lakhs per acres, which has now been increased to Rs 50 lakhs per acre. But yes with regards to the SEZ order, I will say that the Modi government should declare entire Jharkhand or even Santhal Pargana as SEZ, as it will benefit Adani Power Plant.
eNewsroom: Has the terrorist attack in Pulwama, followed by the air strikes made you and others in Mahagathbandhan, rethink the strategy?
Babulal: Yes, immediately after the Pulwama attack, followed by air strikes it looked as if BJP would be benefitted during the elections. But the way the BJP leaders misinformed people, only for their claims to be rubbished by the international media. Also, Imran Khan not wasting time in releasing Abhinandan dented Modi and Amit Shah’s propaganda. A minister even said, “We did not go to kill anyone”. So, the government is now on back foot, which makes clear that it was a political stunt. BJP should not politicise the incident. I think it may now have a reverse impact.
eNewsroom: But Amit Shah has mentioned the number of terrorist killed, while PM Modi has stated – Gush Kar Marenge….
Babulal: If you want to kill, then go and do so, who has stopped you? But it’s like jo badal garajte hai wo baraste nahi (Thundering clouds seldom rains). America did not say anything before entering Pakistan to kill Osama. They even threw his body into the ocean. But we did not kill anyone and are shouting. These days nothing can remain hidden. Media is omnipresent. Strangely enough, all international media has denied any killing.
The 300 terrorists getting killed from the airstrikes have, in fact, made a mockery of India before the world.