Abdul Khaliq, a long-time confidant of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Lok Jan Shakti Party’s general secretary, broke down and cried when, at a meeting on Wednesday, the party took the final call on aligning with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar.
Zakir Hussain Khan, the LJP’s only MLA, has already quit the party citing Muslim protests in his constituency.
Mr. Khaliq, who unsuccessfully negotiated a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, told The Hindu he was shattered by the turn of events but had been rendered helpless by his own failure to clinch an alternative deal.
He quoted a Urdu couplet to describe his distress: ‘Jab ke tujh bin nahi koi maujood, phir ye hungama ay khuda kya hai’ (When you are all there is, when everything is under your direction, then oh, God, what use is my shouting?)“Won’t quit”
The LJP general secretary said though he was deeply depressed, he would not quit the party for the sake of his friendship with Mr. Paswan. “Despite my best effort, I could not prevent this [tie-up with the BJP]. The situation would not have come to this, had the Congress and the RJD been more accommodating towards the LJP.”
Mr. Khaliq said RJD chief Lalu Prasad played hard to get and dragged the negotiations for over three months. The Congress was more conciliatory, though a promised meeting between Mr. Paswan and Rahul Gandhi never materialised. The Hindu has confirmed from well-placed Congress sources that Mr. Gandhi left it too late to salvage the situation. By the time he made a last-ditch effort, the LJP-BJP alliance was done.
The LJP general secretary accused Mr. Prasad of humiliating a party that was already in an alliance with the RJD. “I went to meet Laluji in jail and he promised to give us a fair deal. And yet when he came out, he repeatedly put off seat-sharing talks and encouraged his own people to start campaigning on seats we were expecting to get. It became clear that the LJP was being given only two seats.” According to RJD sources, the LJP was being too demanding.
Mr. Khaliq said he expected the Congress to take the initiative and arrange a meeting between the three parties which did not happen. “I begged them to take action because I knew that the BJP was watching the developments with interest.”
With the talks in limbo, the inevitable happened. The BJP moved in with a better offer. Mr. Khaliq said though he was aware of the huge symbolism of the LJP-BJP deal, he could do nothing. “My party asked me if we should be content with two seats. It was put to me that it was a matter of the LJP’s survival. What could I say or do?”
It was on Mr. Khaliq’s insistence that Mr. Paswan had pulled out of NDA in the aftermath of the 2002 violence in Gujarat. Today the same party has opted to be a part of the Narendra Modi-led NDA. “I’m flooded with calls from distressed Muslims. But since I cannot quit, I will keep a low profile,” Mr. Khaliq told The Hindu.