On the heels of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance with OBC leader Upendra Kushwaha in Bihar, there are indications that the saffron party is likely to join firm up ties with senior socialist leader Ram Vilas Paswan.
The possibility of an alliance between the BJP and Mr. Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party firmed up on Sunday with senior LJP leader Surajbhan Singh’s statement in Delhi that the alliance was nearly final and the talks on seat sharing were underway.
However, Mr. Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan, also the chairman of the LJP’s parliamentary board ruled said the board had not reached any decision.
“We have not discussed anything regarding an electoral alliance. The leaders of our parliamentary board have to take a decision,” Chirag Paswan said. The LJP leadership has been camping in Delhi since long and the senior Mr. Paswan has met BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain on two occasions.
“We have met since we are both from Bihar, but there was no talk of any alliance. It would be premature to say anything,” Hussain told The Hindu.
Mr. Paswan has suddenly come under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with a recruitment scam in a public sector undertaking. Asked about the CBI probe, Mr. Hussain remarked, “He [Mr. Paswan] met the BJP so the CBI is after him.”
Backing for Paswan
In an indication of the BJP warming up to an alliance with Mr. Paswan, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi came down heavily on the Congress for “misusing” the CBI to arm twist Mr. Paswan into staying in the UPA fold.
“The UPA is misusing the CBI to force Mr. Paswan into an alliance [with UPA]. On the one hand there are reports that LJP is moving away from the Congress and on the other hand there are reports of a CBI probe. This indicates that Mr. Paswan is being pressurised to stay with the UPA,” Mr. Modi said.
Asked if the BJP would welcome Mr. Paswan he said the subject has not come up yet. To the possibility of other parties joining the NDA in Bihar, he said, “Now there are two parties. We can’t tell what will be the future.”
Mr. Paswan, who has a dedicated vote base in the dalit Paswan community and also has the backing of a sections of Muslims, had resigned from the NDA’s Union cabinet after the Gujarat riots. His possible return to NDA would dilute the plank of secular politics of the UPA as well as Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad.