Tejashwi Yadav, the political heir of Lalu Yadav, has a question of "chacha" Nitish Kumar - the man who once claimed to rely only on his face to seek votes. "Where did that face go?" questioned the 29-year-old, who had been the Chief Minister's deputy when his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and the Congress were part of Bihar's ruling alliance.
While campaigning in Nalanda, Tejashwi Yadav told NDTV's Prannoy Roy that while the area has been the Chief Minister's bastion for 24 years, his credibility is now in question, especially with indications that reservations may soon be scrapped.
"The people in Nalanda -- the way reservation is ending... that has affected Nitish Kumar's credibility," he told NDTV. "In terms of governance, he used to ask for votes relying on his own face, but look at him now. Nitish Kumar is asking for votes in the name of Pulwama, in the name of the Indian Army. He is asking for votes in the name of Modi, someone he used to hate. So, where did that beautiful face go?"
Questions about properties in the name of Tejashwi Yadav were what ended the mahagathbandhan alliance, formed ahead of the 2015 elections to keep the BJP out of power. Lalu Yadav, a rival-turned ally of Nitish Kumar, had refused to answer any.
Nitish Kumar's prompt turnaround - forming a government with the BJP within 24 hours of ending the Grand Alliance -- has turned Tejashwi Yadav into one of his sharpest critics.
The young leader is also seen as coming of age politically since his father went to jail in 2017 on corruption charges. Not only did he develop a rapport with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and became a key person in the Bihar coalition of five parties, he has also been unsparing in his criticism of the BJP.
For this election, he also has an alternative view to offer on the BJP's interpretation of nationalism, arguing that ensuring the well-being of people is also nationalism.
"I feel if the farmers in our country become strong, when their incomes double, that is also a manifestation of nationalism. Removing poverty, in a way, is a nationalistic act. If the youth get employed, they will progress and that will strengthen our nation. That is also nationalism, in a way," he told NDTV.
About who would be the next Prime Minister if the opposition comes to power, Tejashwi Yadav said, "People usually ask, 'who will be the groom?' We say, 'Where is the bride, tell us that first'. The groom is ready, the festivities are ready, tell us who the bride is".
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