Sweta Ranjan | October 20, 2015
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan is confident that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win elections in Bihar. Speaking to Sweta Ranjan, Chirag said that he finds the Nitish-Lalu alliance a strange combo. He also believes that chief minister Nitish Kumar is a decent person. Excerpts from the interview:
What is your assessment of the outcome of the Bihar elections?
I am very confident that the NDA is forming the government. My confidence comes from the fact that I have travelled to almost all assembly constituencies. For over a year that I had been touring the state I can sense the mood of the people. There is an undercurrent in favour of NDA.
How big is the Modi factor for your alliance to win?
The Modi factor helped us win the Lok Sabha polls and now it is just one state. I accept that we are solely banking on his name. However, this is also a fact that our alliance has formidable names like President of LJP [Ram Vilas Paswan], Upendra Kushwahaji and Jitan Ram Manjhiji. This alliance had done well in the Lok Sabha polls and will deliver again.
How much of a challenge will the Nitish-Lalu alliance poses to you?
It [Nitish-Lalu alliance] is a very unnatural alliance. In fact, it is a strange tie- up. Nitishji became the chief minister only because there was so much of resentment against Laluji’s jungle raj for 15 years. In fact the term ‘jungle raj’ was coined by Nitishji. He had once criticised Laluji but later joined hands with him.
You mean Nitish Kumar is a more decent leader than Lalu Prasad Yadav?
Yes. When you compare them, Nitishji is better. At least he has worked for the people of Bihar. Laluji never did anything.
What are your views on the reservation?
We are clear about it – that the reservation policy must stay. I think we need no debate over the constitutional provision for uplifting the SC/STs and OBCs.We haven’t achieved the set targets for changing the lives of the marginalised.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently talked about review of reservation policy.
Mohan Bhagwat heads an independent organisation. They are free to voice their opinion.
But the ruling party at the centre has its roots in RSS and part of your alliance.
The BJP has made its stand very clear over this. Ours’ is an issue based alliance and LJP’s manifesto and ideology are totally different than BJP’s. We strongly oppose any such thoughts on the reservation policy.
What’s your stand on the beef issue?
I don’t understand why it is an issue all together. There are enough laws in all the states. There are states where beef is already banned and somewhere it is not. Firstly, when there is a law for it, there is no requirement for discussion. Secondly, eating habit is an individual’s choice. I don’t think anybody should force or comment on what a person is eating. Thirdly, when a state like Bihar has many issues to deal with, why are we talking about beef?
It is believed that you played a key role in striking alliance with the BJP.
The day I entered into active politics, I was sure about changing our partners. I could not think of starting my journey with someone as dented as Laluji. It would be dishonest on my part to share a stage with Laluji and talk about eradicating corruption.
Your father Ram Vilas Paswan stood against Narender Modi once and called him communal, non-secular. How things have changed?
I think that was a different time. During the emergency, everyone was against the Congress but later joined hands with it. We cannot get stuck in one era. You have to move on and let certain things go. You cannot hold on to whatever happened in 2002 (Gujarat riots). In 2014, we realised it was time for us to move on. Moreover, we also realised that after this Gujarat did not see any communal riot. Personally, I am inspired by Modiji.
Your party is known for taking U turns…..
We have often been accused of going for satta (power). What people should know is that have always believed in pre-poll and not post-poll alliance. Even during Lok Sabha polls, we had joined hands [with BJP] before and not after it won the election. Earlier my father was adamant on not leaving the UPA and even considering alliance with BJP. It took me two weeks of constant coaxing to make him think about it. I managed to convince him, finally.
Do you have a greater say in the party now?
Being the chairman of the party’s parliamentary board I have many responsibilities. I do have a new vision but I learn from the experiences of my senior leaders. All my decisions are collective decisions.
What are your views about dynasty politics?
I am against it. Out of 36 candidates that we have fielded only two have a political background.
But your presence is also perpetuating the dynasty?
I accept that it [political background] gives you an easy entry. But one’s longevity in politics depends on one’s potential. Getting an easy entry doesn’t always work. I got an easy entry but when I decided to contest from Jamui, the political scene of the place, caste equations etc were completely against our alliance. But I managed to win because of my capabilities. So, even if the entry is easy, you have to prove yourself in the long run.
There are many contenders for chief minister’s post in your alliance.
Yes, there are many faces. The fact that we are not projecting any one as chief minister shows that democracy is alive in our alliance. It is going to be the MLAs of BJP, LJP, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Manjhiji’s Party [Hindustani AwamMorcha] who will choose a CM.
Is the rise of Jitan Ram Manjhi a threat to Lok Janshakti Party and you?
Not at all. Why?
The caste equation….
A lot needs to be done for the section of the society that you are talking about. We need more representatives to actually make a difference. Manjhiji’s joining the alliance is more than a welcome step. Manjhiji is like a family. His presence has given strength to our alliance and will help us in performing better.
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