Patna: Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan today asked the NDA leaders to desist from making off-the-cuff remarks and be “more tactful” during elections, in the wake of the party’s poor showing in the recent bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
He expressed concern over some leaders of the ruling NDA at the centre occasionally making remarks that created an impression of the alliance being against certain sections of the society and also spoke about why his son spoke about course correction that the BJP needs after bypoll results.
Mr Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is an important ally of the BJP in the NDA. While campaigning for BJP during the Araria bypoll on March 9, Bihar party unit president Nityanand Rai had allegedly said that if the RJD candidate won the election, Araria would become a safe haven for the ISI.
An FIR was lodged against Mr Rai for violating election code.
Similarly, Union minister Giriraj Singh’s utterance a day after the party’s loss in the bypoll that Araria would become a “hub of terrorism” also drew sharp criticism.
Mr Paswan said social arithmetic is known to be a solid poll plank in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than talking about development, adding that was the reason behind the BJP’s “shocking” defeat in the bypoll in its traditional stronghold of Gorakhpur.
“The bypoll results in Bihar were not at all surprising. One Lok Sabha and two assembly constituencies had fallen vacant upon the death of the incumbents whose close family members retained the seats for the respective parties. The respective tallies of the RJD and the BJP remained unaltered,” Mr Paswan told reporters in Patna.
“But, it is in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where we received shock. The party lost both the seats despite running popular governments at the centre and in the state”, he said.
“It was in this backdrop that LJP parliamentary board chief Chirag Paswan spoke about the need for a course correction. There was no anti-incumbency against the BJP in UP, yet it lost because arch rivals BSP and SP joined hands,” Mr Paswan said.
The food minister was referring to a recent tweet by Chirag Paswan, his son and the MP from Jamui Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.
“We ought to look carefully at how Congress remained in power in the country for so long, enjoying the support of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims without actually doing anything for them,” Mr Paswan said.
The BJP-led NDA governments, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Narendra Modi, have made tireless efforts to improve the condition of these communities, he added.
“That the NDA works for the progress of all is a fact. This fact needs to be coupled with a bit of tact. Leaders ought to be more tactful and avoid blunders like speaking against reservations during assembly elections,” he said.
He was referring to a comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on reservation in jobs during the Bihar assembly polls in 2015, which is widely believed to have queered the pitch for the BJP-led alliance.
About TDP in Andhra Pradesh walking out of the NDA and moving a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government, Mr Paswan remarked, “The party (TDP) has acted keeping its prospects in the next assembly polls in the state, due next year, in mind. Their demand for special status is, however, not possible for any government to fulfil.”
“Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is our ally, has been raising the demand for granting special status to the state for so long. Bihar would have been thrown into turmoil upon grant of special status to Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, the new system of special packages has done away with the need for grant of special status as it involves a lot of ifs and buts in providing central assistance to needy states,” he said.
About former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha founder Jitan Ram Manjhi also quitting the NDA and joining the RJD-Congress combine, the Union minister said, “The NDA is like an ocean to which a few drops do not matter”.
“Moreover, Manjhi is a Mahadalit and his exit from the NDA coincided with former state Congress president Ashok Chowdhury who belongs to the same social group joining the coalition along with three other MLCs of his party,” he pointed out.
Mr Paswan also dismissed claims by RJD leaders that Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha was feeling uneasy in the NDA and may quit the alliance soon.
“He (Kushwaha) has himself categorically denied the same. He is firmly with the NDA. The RJD-Congress combine is going overboard,” the LJP leader added.