Debating India

BIHAR

Not against secular alliance: Paswan

Sunday 29 May 2005

Special Correspondent

To reveal strategy of Lok Jan Shakti Party in October

- "I will not join hands with the NDA"

- "Muslim will become the Chief Minister"

- Appeal to Election Commission to hold elections after November

HYDERABAD: Lok Jan Shakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan is not opposed to the formation of a secular alliance for the Assembly elections in Bihar. But he will reveal his party’s strategy only in October.

At a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Paswan said: "I will not reveal my plans till October. But, one thing is clear. I will not join hands with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)."

The LJP leader said that he had two options - going it alone or joining the secular front. He would prefer to await the formation of a secular front while simultaneously strengthening his party. He had not explored the idea of a secular front since there was no United Progressive Alliance-type arrangement in Bihar, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal had worked for the defeat of the Left parties.

Mr. Paswan did not foresee immediate elections since they had never been held during monsoon. There would be floods from the second week of June. In October, the Kosi and Bagmati rivers and many streams would be in spate. Elections were therefore possible at the earliest in November, he said.

He said that he had favoured the dissolution of the Assembly even before Governor Buta Singh made a recommendation. Although he had never publicly sought the dissolution it was one of the several predictions he had made during his poll campaign. All these came true and his subsequent prediction that a Muslim would become Chief Minister would also come true.Earlier, addressing a Dalit-Muslim unity conference, Mr. Paswan reiterated his promise to nominate a Muslim as the next chief minister.

The LJP would continue to champion the cause of Dalits and Muslims and consolidate the vote bank of the weaker sections so that the party won at least 100 seats in the next Assembly elections.

He appealed to the Election Commission to hold the elections only after November and not succumb to pressure from other political parties.

"Not responsible"

Mr. Paswan refuted charges that his adamant attitude led to political uncertainty. He said: "I am not at all responsible for the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly. As a key player in Bihar, my party had taken a stand not to align with the Rashtriya Janata Dal or the Janata Dal (U)".

"My only contention was that the LJP would support the party which nominated a Muslim as the Chief Minister but RJD chief Lalu Prasad and the JD (U) leadership were not willing to concede the major demand. In turn, the NDA alliance partners resorted to horse-trading to buy [over] our MLAs and form the next Government."

Mr. Paswan said the LJP favoured the creation of smaller States, reservation for women in the legislature and a quota for Dalits in the private sector.

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