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Ram Vilas Paswan: Fighting for survival

Friday, 18 April 2014 - 6:30am IST | Place: Hajipur | Agency: dna

Nine years ago, after a fractured mandate post-February 2005 Bihar assembly elections, he was a kingmaker with 29 MLAs, a number which granted him the political firepower to pitch for a Muslim chief minister in Bihar and maintain an 'anti-BJP, anti-RJD' rhetoric. Today, it is survival on the political turf that has forced him to yet again ally with BJP and become a part of the NDA. Life has indeed come full circle for Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who left the Congress-RJD alliance and returned to NDA almost after 12 years. As part of the alliance, LJP is contesting on seven seats in Bihar.

Ironically, Paswan, who had quit the NDA in 2002 in the wake of the riots in Gujarat, to join yet again in search of political relevance, is now questioning Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's secular credentials as he stayed with the NDA, and did not take a call during the riots. During a campaign after filing his nomination at Hajipur, Paswan said, "Why did Nitish Kumar not resign after the 2002 riots had taken place in Bihar.

He remained with BJP for at least 17 years and is now trying to play the martyr."

Hajipur will go to polls on May 7 and Paswan will be pitted against sitting JD(U) MP Ramsundar Das and Congress' Sanjeev Prasad Tony. Paswan also claims in his interactions during the voters that the Congress has humiliated the minorities.

This time around Paswan's stake is really high as his son Chirag Paswan also tried his fate in elections from the Jamui reserved seat in Bihar. The elections for the same were held on April 10.

A party insider told dna on condition of anonymity, "He took a risk after the assembly results came in 2005. And he has taken a risk yet again now. Because it is a matter of survival for the party." The source said the new generation in the LJP, referring to Paswan's son Chirag Paswan, had been itching for out-of-the box thinking. After the adamant stand on Muslim CM, which Lalu simply did not agree to, nobody could form a government in Bihar, and President's Rule was imposed. In the elections that happened six months later, NDA came in full majority. Paswan was nowhere.

In the UPA-I, meanwhile, he remained the minister for chemicals and fertilisers. However, Paswan could not regain the lost ground either in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, or the 2010 Bihar state assembly elections. In 2004, the party had won four seats, but could not win a single seat in 2009 Lok Sabha. In the 2010 assembly elections, the party won only 3, down from 10 it won in the elections held after the President's Rule. Paswan had been winning the Hajipur seat since 1977, with only two exceptions in 1984 and 2009. Not surprisingly, both father-son duo agree that this time it is indeed a 'fight for survival'.

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