The Rediff Interview/Ram Vilas Paswan
'There are hot words, there are disagreements, but things settle down after sometime'
The Janata Dal, which is the principal constituent
of the coalition United Front government, is constantly
affected by internecine squabbles in the upper rung of its
leadership. Strangely, the centre of many of these controversies is the
Bihar chief minister, who is also the JD
Laloo Prasad Yadav
has made no secret that he is the kingmaker and that his
influence in the UF government is considerable. This has not gone
down well with the prime minister who has been distancing himself
H D Deve Gowda has increasingly turned for advice and counsel to
Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan,
who is also the leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.
Yadav has sought to rattle his senior party colleagues by meeting Congress
president and former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao twice
in the course of the last fortnight. The Bihar leader
knows his meetings with Rao will upset his party
colleagues and others in the UF government.
Paswan discusses the relationship between the prime minister and Yadav,
in this interview withTara Shankar Sahay.Excerpts
from the interview:
Janata Dal President Laloo Prasad Yadav's meetings with Narasimha Rao
is now the main topic of discussion in political circles.
I have also heard about it.
The JD is the main constituent of the UF government and, therefore,
will Yadav's meeting Rao not be injurious to your party's
Frankly, I think that this question should be directly at Mr
Yadav, our leadership is not unaware about important political
So the JD leaders are upset, aren't they?
The prime minister and other party leaders know what is going
on. As far as the JD leadership is concerned, it knows its strength.
Do you mean to say the Rao-Yadav meetings are being ignored
by your party leaders?
Nothing is being ignored. I mean, if the party president has met his
counterpart in the Congress, that's his business.
But I say this: Mere meetings between leaders of different parties
means nothing for the stability of the United Front government.
It is said you are the bone of contention between Deve Gowda and
What do you mean?
That ever since the prime msinister has increased his dependence
on you for advice on government matters, Yadav
has started feeling resentful.
Is it my fault? Am I to blame for it? Whenever the prime minister
seeks my opinion, I give it. Too much is being made that I am
Mr Deve Gowda's new-found confidante.
But are you not?
Your journalists are the best judge (laughs).
Is not a coincidence that Deve Gowda now looks
more and more to you and Sharad Yadav about crucial
decisions than Laloo Yadav. Is it not proof that the Bihar
chief minister and the prime minister are no longer as warm about each
other as they were earlier.
As I said you people are the best judge. But don't read
too much about these things. They happen in a coalition government,
especially at the Centre. There are hot words, there are disagreements
but things settle down after sometime.
Right now temperatures are rising among senior leaders
in your party.
So what? They will cool down. The rainy season has come (laughs).
What about the assembly poll in Uttar Pradesh? How will the UF constituents
I don't want to make predictions. But our endeavour is to defeat
communal forces as represented by the BJP and victory of the forces
of social justice.
Are you the unchallenged dalit leader in the country?
I am a leader and I have a huge following among the dalits
and oppressed classes.
Laloo Yadav recently said that Deve Gowda is incompetent to
be prime minister.
No comment. (as an afterthought) But it does no credit to
the leader of our party to criticise the prime minister.