A day after he took oath as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's deputy, Tejashwi Yadav today praised the Janata Dal (United) leader for his "fearless" stand despite BJP's "vindictive" stand towards the Opposition. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Yadav also said allegations that his party can't govern are "rubbish".
The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have mastered the "art of lying" he said.
"The Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) is the real government - the people's government in Bihar. It is what the people want - Nitish ji and Laluji's gathbandhan," he said.
Nitish Kumar's "bold decision" to dump the BJP, Tejashwi Yadav said, has left the party "worried and bruised".
"Our duty is to protest the constitution. People are on our side. We have to work for them now. If BJP worked for the people, then they would not have needed central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to stay relevant. The slap that the people of Bihar have given the BJP and the bold decision taken by Nitish Kumar has left them worried and bruised. They are vindictive people," he said.
Tejashwi Yadav, 32, also said that the new government will address unemployment and poverty on priority. "Providing jobs is our priority... We will fulfil this commitment together," he added.
Asked whether the alliance will complete the tenure, Mr Tejashwi Yadav said, "We are socialists... We (Nitish Kumar and I) have traded allegations, but we belong to one family. We may fight but we will be at the service of the people".
Tejashwi Yadav, whose party has often been attacked by the BJP over the crime rate when his father was the chief minister, also accused the BJP of creating a false "perception in people's minds".
"Jungle raj is when people can't say a word. Show me data on Bihar during our time and then we can talk about crime in Bihar. If you analyze data on which government was better, you will realise that crime was rampant when the NDA was in power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP are masters in the art of lying," he said.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader also dismissed BJP's charge of corruption against him. "I had no corruption allegations against me," he said. Corruption was among the main reasons cited by Nitish Kumar when he returned to BJP in 2017 after a two-year alliance with the RJD.
Nitish Kumar took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the eighth time on Wednesday, a day after he broke ties with the BJP citing a range of reasons, chief among them his worries that the BJP may try to do a Maharashtra in Bihar, that it had been working in the shadows to hollow out the JD(U) from inside.
The oath ceremony was attended by Tejashwi and his wife Rajshri, former CM Rabri Devi and RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav at the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Patna.
The Mahagathbandhan have a total of 164 members in the Assembly, the BJP has 77 MLAs.