Ram Vilas Paswan all set to align with Bharatiya Janata Party again

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 27 2014, 00:40am hrs
Ram vilas paswanRam Vilas Paswan said members in the Parliamentary Board were of the opinion that the option of going with Bharatiya Janata Party should also be kept open. (Reuters)
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), headed by Ram Vilas Paswan which left NDA in 2002 over the 2002 Gujarat riots, during which CM was Narendra Modi, today gave clear indications of tying up with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.

The new tie up that may come as a jolt to Congress' plans to have a "secular" alliance with his party and RJD is likely to be announced in the next few days as LJP's Parliamentary Board that met today authorised Ram Vilas Paswan to take a final decision in this regard.

"The LJP Parliamentary Board has passed a resolution that all steps, even if they are strong ones, should be taken in the interest of the party and if an alternative alliance is to be firmed up party chief Ram Vilas Paswan should take the decision", said his son Chirag Paswan, who heads the Parliamentary Board.

He told reporters that there was a "deadlock" on the issue of alliance between RJD-Congress and LJP.

To a question whether LJP will tie-up with BJP, he said that "all options are now open for the LJP".

The LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said members in the Parliamentary Board were of the opinion that the option of going with Bharatiya Janata Party should also be kept open.

"We had our grievances with RJD for a long time. I had even gone to meet Lalu Prasad in jail. But soon after he was out, RJD leaders started saying LJP should be given three seats. That is why we left it to Congress to decide the seat sharing. I waited for months, but there was no decision.

"They assumed that LJP is nothing, it is irrelevant. If one takes 25 seats (RJD) and the other 15 (Cong). It means they do not treat LJP as part of the alliance.... That is why the party has authorised me to explore new alternative," Ram Vilas Paswan said.

BJP sources also said talks between the two parties regarding the alliance have reached an "advance" stage over seat sharing.

To questions about how he could align with Modi-led BJP when he had walked out of NDA Government in the wake of Gujarat riots, Ram Vilas Paswan said "on the one hand there is personal emotion and on the other there is the party. The party is like my mother and its decision is binding on all".

He said options for an alternative alliance are now open after the LJP's decision today.He also dismissed suggestions that aligning with BJP would undermine his secular credentials.

"LJP will stick to its ideology. There is no need to tell the world that Ram Vilas Paswan is secular. Our party has suffered hugely for the cause of secularism. I had even left NDA when such an occasion arose," Ram Vilas Paswan said.

To questions whether LJP has no problems aligning with Narendra Modi-led BJP, Ram Vilas Paswan said, "Opinion in LJP is not against going with BJP. A decision on alliance will be taken in 3-4 days since the party has given the responsibility for it....

"The party looks for a new option. It means that there is a deadlock in the old alternative. Our alliance was with the RJD. That option is now deadlocked. There is now no dialogue, no communication."

Some BJP leaders have met Chirag. Talk is that BJP has offered seven seats to LJP, which is pressing for nine seats.

BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain had called on LJP chief a few days back while senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had visited Ram Vilas Paswan on January 14 on the day of Makar Sankranti.

Ram Vilas Paswan had left the NDA and resigned from the Vajpayee government after the Gujarat riots in 2002.LJP was part of the Congress-led UPA from 2004 to 2009 with Ram Vilas Paswan being a Cabinet Minister at the Centre.

"Our alliance with RJD is now over," LJP leader Rama Singh said after the meeting.

LJP sources said that talks for a tie-up between LJP and BJP have already progressed to a substantial level.

Under the arrangement discussed so far, BJP has agreed to spare seven out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar for Ram Vilas Paswan's party.

The seats for which there is a broad agreement so far include Hajipur, Samastipur, Jamui, Munger, Khagaria and Vaishali.

Asked whether LJP would have no problem with Modi in view of the 2002 riots taint, Chirag Paswan had said on Monday, "If the court has given its verdict and they say he (Modi) is clean, then I do not think it is an issue to talk about now."

BJP, which has seen some of its Bihar leaders opposing the tie-up move, has not come on record on the issue with its central leaders saying they can say anything only if something concrete happens.

The party, which is keenly trying to woo dalits, is expected to get a boost if a pre-poll alliance with LJP fructifies.

Congress, which was keen for a tie-up with RJD and LJP, has been maintaining that Ram Vilas Paswan was only posturing and will not join NDA.

Party leader Shakeel Ahmed today said that he failed to understand how Ram Vilas Paswan could join hands with BJP after walking out of NDA on Gujarat riots issue.