Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who stunned political circles last week by re-joining the BJP-led NDA 12 years after jettisoning it over Narendra Modi’s failure to contain the communal conflagration in his state, has said that he had no option but to switch sides after being insulted by both the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal, or the RJD.
“There was no other option. I was insulted by both the Congress and the RJD,” Mr. Paswan told, adding, “The UPA mistreats its allies. The NDA treats its allies better. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never share stage with their allies, while the BJP promotes its allies.”
To buttress his argument, the former union minister cited the example of the BJP’s decision, made on the eve of the February, 2005 assembly polls in Bihar, to anoint Nitish Kumar, the de-facto head of Janata Dal (United), as the NDA’s chief ministerial candidate.
The LJP founder’s remarks drawing a comparison between the NDA and the UPA are significant, as he had always held the Congress president on a very high pedestal, and insisted that he would act on her advice. It was Mrs. Gandhi who had taken the initiative of walking up to Mr. Paswan’s residence at 12, Jan Path on January 1, 2004 to stitch up a pre-poll alliance with the LJP. The partnership between the two parties had paved the way for the formation of UPA.
Mr. Paswan’s son Chirag vowed to put up candidates with a clean image in the coming Lok Sabha polls. The LJP has often been accused by its rivals of being the party of Paswans and criminals. Of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies earmarked for it, three (Hajipur, Jamui and Samastipur) will be contested by members of Mr. Paswan’s family, while Vaishali and Monghyr are being coveted by Rama Singh and Suraj Bhan Singh, who have several criminal cases pending against them.