With the Congress kept on guessing for an alliance, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP has given signals of exploring a tie-up with the BJP. Chirag Paswan, the Bollywood aspirant and political heir of Ram Vilas Paswan, who is also the chairman of the LJP’s parliamentary board, met BJP president Rajnath Singh recently. Whether Paswan will alliance with BJP or not, that is a different matter but BJP needs to be extra careful. Paswan is the absolute weather cloud on Indian politics. He moves in the direction where the wind blows much before anyone else. Obviously, BJP can be the winners in these elections. All pseudo secular parties first talk to BJP to bargain with Congress for some more seats. These parties are fake. You may win or lose, but national parties should not entertain these unruly parties. Anyways, the UPA’s alliance has already accepted that Modi is the best choice as PM and BJP is the best pro-people party at this moment. Paswan has been a minister in both the NDA and UPA governments and was the first to quit NDA in 2002 over the Gujarat riots. Asked if he could align with Narendra Modi, Surajbhan Singh said, “When the court has given a clean chit to Narendra Modi, who are we to say anything?” Though a section of the LJP is in favour of the tie-up, Paswan himself is still making up his mind.
Paswan buffed his “secular” credentials domestically and abroad by describing his resignation from the Vajpayee government in April 2002 as a protest against the Modi regime’s failure to control the post-Godhra conflagration. He had also demanded that Modi be sacked and President’s rule be imposed in Gujarat. Having been turned down by Congress and Lalu Prasad’s RJD on seat arrangement for the Lok Sabha elections, LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan is considering joining hands with BJP in Bihar, in what will be a political coup for the Narendra Modi campaign as well as a boost for its effort to bag the majority of 40 seats in the state.
However, RJD MP and Lalu Prasad’s trusted confidant Ramkripal Yadav acknowledged that seat-sharing talks between Congress-RJD and LJP had failed. According to Yadav, LJP was insisting on nine of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Lalu Prasad offered LJP five seats. Congress wants 15 seats and the NCP has claimed two. LJP, which started by demanding 12 seats, has climbed down, but is insisting on 8-9 seats, saying that was its bottom line. The Paswan’s community, which accounts for 4-5% of Bihar’s population, is spread across the state, and has been fanatically loyal to Ram Vilas, helping him become one of the few leaders who can transfer votes to whosoever he chooses to align with. Paswan, who was unsuccessfully wooed by JD(U), opened negotiations with BJP after Congress and Lalu did not agree to spare more than five seats for him. LJP circles have also noted the timing of the CBI’s decision to open an inquiry into Paswan’s alleged involvement in the illegal recruiting scam at Bokaro Steel Plant.
His son and heir apparent Chirag, who controls LJP’s policy issues, favours an alliance with the BJP. Although Paswan is yet to take the final call, Chirag is learnt to be leaning on him to take the “vital decision immediately as further delay may affect campaigning”. An alliance with Paswan will help BJP’s objective to get the majority of 120 Lok Sabha seats from UP and Bihar. Upper castes are supposed to be strongly rooting for Modi. There are also indications that the appeal of BJP’s PM candidate as the first “backward” to have emerged as a realistic contender for prime minister may have seeped among the “backward castes”. The addition of Paswan may result in a formidable rainbow coalition.
It might also affect the objective of RJD-Congress to attract Muslim votes by raising doubts about their capacity to deny seats from Bihar, raising the prospect of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) emerging as the rival pole of attraction for the minority community in many seats. Of late, he has openly expressed his frustration with the Congress’s lack of initiative in starting talks. Many view the current signals as muscle-flexing before the Congress and the RJD. The RJD, in its preliminary talks with the Congress, has been reluctant to give more than three or four seats to Paswan’s party. The LJP is keen on Nawada and Araria but the RJD is setting its terms as it wants Araria for Md Taslimuddin. The LJP wants its MLA Zakir Hussain Khan to contest from Araria, Surajbhan’s wife from Nawada, and Ramakishore Singh from Sheohar. The BJP is hoping to get Hajipur, Samastipur and Jamui which Paswan, his brother Ramchandra and son Chirag are keen to contest.
Democracy is known to function at a snail’s pace and has slow decision making process. Extensive consultation process will make it further slow down. On the other hand, I feel that the stakeholders, the common man, must be consulted in any law making process. In politics, the principle of forgive and forget is really strong. Paswan was a minister in every cabinet starting from V.P. Singh and ended with Manmohan Singh in 2009. He is another Pawar, who cannot live without a ministerial post. Paswan foresees a bright chance for BJP so he also thought to ride on the back of Modi’s popularity. For BJP, there will be additional 4 per cent votes of Paswan’s community and together the alliance may sweep the Bihar poll with Upendra Kushwaha’s party which has already joined the alliance. The opportunist at his best, Paswan has been the same for last 20 years, always siding with the party likely to form government, first with the United Front, then NDA and subsequently UPA. BJP should be very cautious in selecting allies. It may be a ploy by the Congress Party which advises to go with NDA and post election after winning some handsome seats come back in UPA. So, BJP should be extra alert while choosing allies for the general elections.