Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan said he had shared his problems about “ideological differences” with the Janata Dal (United) to the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership, especially Amit Shah, before deciding to walk out of the alliance with the ruling party in Bihar, NDTV reported on Thursday. Paswan said that Shah had remained “quiet”.
The Lok Janshakti Party had walked out of the National Grand Alliance over “ideological differences” with Janata Dal (United) on October 4, but said it would remain a “strong partner” of the BJP and fight against Nitish Kumar. Chirag Paswan’s LJP is a member of the NDA at the Centre and his father Ram Vilas Paswan was a Union Minister till his death on October 8.
Chirag Paswan said he met Shah and BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda before deciding to go solo in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections and putting up candidates against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U). “I met him [Amit Shah] once and told him it won’t be possible for him to incorporate me in seat sharing, but would it be possible for him to include my agenda of Bihar First, Bihari First, in NDA [National Democratic Alliance] agenda,” Paswan said. “I said: if not, allow me to put up my candidates against JDU.” The LJP chief claimed that the Union home minister did not say anything and just listened.
On the BJP’s claims that he would not have made the decision to walk out of the alliance had his father Ram Vilas Paswan been around, the LJP chief said that it was his father who told him to contest alone. “This was one of his biggest dreams...that the party should contest alone,” said Chirag Paswan. “He actually used to instigate me and tell me that in 2005, I [Ram Vilas Paswan] took the decision and I could do that and you are young, why are you not taking the decision.”
Ram Vilas Paswan, who founded the LJP, died on October 8 after undergoing a heart surgery on October 4. Chirag Paswan had made the decision to contest alone when his father was alive but not active in politics.
Chirag Paswan added that many BJP leaders such as Minister of State Nityanand Rai, spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain and Ram Kripal Yadav had spoken to his father in the past few months and knew about his wish.
“He was very clear on his thought. He told me very categorically, if today, because of you, the current chief minister continues to be CM for the next five years, you will be regretting it 10 to 15 years down the line that because of you, the state will suffer for five more years.”— Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan
‘Nitish Kumar harmed the Dalit community’
Chirag Paswan also accused Nitish Kumar of harming the Dalit community by creating a sub-constituency of Mahadalits, PTI reported. Paswan said: “It must be kept in mind that the LJP has never been a fan of Nitish Kumar’s style of politics. He has harmed the Dalits by creating a sub-group of Mahadalits for his own political gains.”
Paswan said his party had fought the Lok Sabha polls last year in alliance with the JD(U) because of the “compulsions” brought on by Kumar returning to the NDA fold. He claimed that the JD(U) had been working against the LJP candidates in violation of “coalition dharma”. He alleged that Kumar had behaved “haughtily” when his father had called on him last year with a request to accompany him for filing nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha.
“Nitish Kumar remarked mockingly that my father could not have got elected to the Rajya Sabha without the JD(U)’s support since we had only two MLAs,” Paswan said. “He should remember that my father was promised a Rajya Sabha berth by the then BJP chief Amit Shah himself.” He added that no son could take his father being treated this way lying down.
The LJP leader said contrary to Kumar’s claims, there is corruption in every government scheme in Bihar. “And communalism?” Paswan remarked. “What does he have to say about the comments of Nityanand Rai? He owes an answer. Unlike us, he is still a part of the NDA in Bihar.”
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had claimed earlier this month at a poll rally that a victory for the Rashtriya Janata Dal will turn Bihar into a safe haven for Kashmiri terrorists.
A day after quitting the alliance on October 4, Chirag Paswan had penned an open letter asking people “not to waste even a single vote” on a JD(U) candidate.
“Every vote going to the JD(U) candidate will compel your children to migrate from the state,” Paswan wrote. “It is a do-or-die battle for 12 crore Bihar people, and we have nothing to lose. I know the way forward for the LJP is not going to be easy, but then it has not been easy for the people of Bihar for the last three decades either.” Paswan had also denied claims that the decision was to fulfill his own political ambitions and added that he never had any faith in Nitish Kumar’s leadership.
The Janata Dal (United) had criticised the Lok Janshakti Party’s move as “overambitious, misplaced” and “a suicidal act”.
Elections in Bihar will be held in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The results will be out on November 10. This is the first election to be held in the country during the coronavirus pandemic. The Bihar Assembly has 243 seats, of which 38 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and two for Scheduled Tribes.