“I will not contest an election ever again,” filmmaker Prakash Jha had said in September 2010, having lost the Lok Sabha election from Bihar the previous year.
“The idea of becoming an MP was to have a position where I would have access to resources. Even without being an MP, I continue to do whatever I can,” he had said at an interaction with journalists of The Indian Express.
Cut to the summer of 2014 and Jha, 62, is back contesting the polls from West Champaran for the third time, this time as a JD(U) candidate. But barring his announcement that he would not contest elections, Jha seems to have remained true to what he said during the 2010 interaction.
He still says contesting as a candidate of Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP was a mistake, that he wants to become an MP to have “access to resources to bring about major change” and most importantly, has joined hands with Nitish Kumar, about whom he had dropped ample hints back then.
However, there has been one major change since 2010. “As a filmmaker and a citizen, I think the rise of this man Modi since last June is dangerous,” he says, adding that he is fundamentally opposed to what the BJP stands for. “Our DNA don’t match. What I have done my whole life is against the BJP.”
Jha, who used to run a Hindi channel named Maurya TV before it was acquired by Zee Media last year, thinks the “Modi Wave” is a media creation. “[Rupees] Five thousand crores!” he exclaims, referring to the alleged amount being spent by the BJP on its media campaign.
He is conscious that his new leader was in the NDA until last year, hence the subtle reference to June when Nitish Kumar walked out of the alliance. “After he drifted away from the NDA, Nitish Kumar started talking to me. There was huge emotional pressure, even from the constituency,” Jha said during a roadshow in Raxaul.
However, he agrees that there was no scope of working with the JD(U) before that: “Only after he left the NDA did Nitish become acceptable to me as a leader.”
In a seat held by the BJP, Jha is taking a stand.
“Modi nahi, vikas chahiye. Champaran ko Prakash chahiye (We need development, not Modi. Champaran needs Prakash),” is his main slogan. He has stripped the campaign of flab, making himself the focal point.