M A I N   N E W S

Paswan blames Lalu
To play Muslim-Dalit card
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
Even as he blamed the NDA of taking recourse to horse-trading to get the numbers in the Bihar Assembly, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan today squarely held Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav responsible for the dissolution of state Assembly, saying that efforts to install a secular UPA government headed by a Muslim did not succeed because of the intransigence of the RJD chief.

Playing a martyr who had been wronged by the RJD because of his insistence on a Muslim Chief Minister, Mr Paswan said he had even agreed to support an RJD-led government if it was headed by a person from the minority community. “But the RJD remained adamant on Ms Rabri Devi,” he said.

Mr Paswan, who did not attend yesterday’s late night Cabinet meeting which recommended the dissolution of the Assembly, said he had proposed the name of senior RJD leader J. Hussain to the Prime Minister and several other senior Congress leaders as a possible choice to head the UPA government. “Earlier, I had suggested the name of NCP leader Tariq Anwar but no consensus was reached,” he said.

Mr Paswan said soon after the Assembly elections, he had asked the JD(U) to leave the BJP and name of a Muslim as chief ministerial candidate. The political parties remained fixed to their stated positions. “As the stalemate continued and the NDA started poaching LJP MLAs, the government was left with no option but to recommend the dissolution of the Assembly,” he said.

Mr Paswan said all LJP leaders, who had sided with the NDA during the past two days, would be expelled from the party.

Giving clear indications of his desire to play the Dalit-Muslim card in the coming months, Mr Paswan said he would hold a series of rallies in the Muslim-dominated areas of Bihar in the first week of June. Similar rallies would be held in other parts of the country, including UP and Andhra Pradesh. He said nearly 100 of the 243 seats in the Bihar Assembly had a sizeable population of Muslims and Dalits.

Mr Paswan said the Bihar unit of the party would be reconstituted after a meeting of the party’s national executive next month.

About Mr Lalu Prasad promising a better deal to the Congress and Left parties in the Assembly elections to be held within six months, Mr Paswan said real strength of the LJP would be visible in three months and some parties would come to it for alliance. “There are nearly 40 seats on which we finished second in the outgoing Assembly. Also, we now have a organised party structure with a known election symbol,” he said.

Mr Paswan said he had been opposed to the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly and continued to plead for President’s rule. “But the RJD was restless as it could not form a government.”

The LJP chief, who had emerged kingmaker in view of a fractured verdict in the Bihar poll, said he sacrificed power but did not compromise on the position of making a Muslim the Chief Minister.

Mr Paswan said the RJD also did not accept his earlier proposal of supporting a Congress-led government headed by a Muslim.

The LJP chief alleged that NDA had made several promises to his MLAs to win over their loyalty. “Had I given details, the Assembly would have been dissolved earlier,” he said. Mr Paswan said the NDA would not have been able to split the LJP in Bihar as it required the support of two-thirds of the party and not only MLAs.


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