Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday said that the leaders of the National Democratic Alliance should desist from making “off-the-cuff” remarks that give an impression that the alliance is against certain sections of the society, PTI reported. Paswan is the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

His remarks come in the wake of the BJP’s poor performance in the recent bye-elections held in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Paswan said the results in Bihar’s Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jehanabad Assembly seat were not surprising, as the incumbent Rashtriya Janata Dal had won the seats. “But it is in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where we received shock,” the minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution told reporters. “The party lost both the seats despite running popular governments at the Centre and in the state.”

The BJP had lost the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Assembly seats, which were previously held by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.

The Lok Janshakti Party chief said the BJP needs to change “mass perception” in terms of minorities and Dalits. He said there are secular leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi and Ram Kripal Yadav in the BJP. “What happens is that their voice gets suppressed and there are others whose voice gets attention,” he added.

Paswan said the BJP should observe how the Congress remained in power in the country for a long time and even enjoyed the support of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims “without actually doing anything for them”. He said: “The National Democratic Alliance works for the progress of all and that is a fact. This fact needs to be coupled with a bit of tact.”

Days before the bye-election, Nityanand Rai, the Bihar president of the BJP, had said that if Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Sarfaraz Alam won the polls in Araria, it would “become a hub of the Islamic State”. He had said that if the BJP candidate won, the constituency would see more patriotism. Rai was booked for violating the model code of conduct.