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Paswan keeps poll strategy close to chest

May 24, 2005 17:10 IST

Keeping his cards close to his chest, Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today declined to spell out his strategy for the Bihar assembly election, and said it was for the Congress to decide on having electoral ties with United Progressive Alliance partners.

"There is no hurry. Elections are not going to be held tomorrow. First I will strengthen my organisation all over Bihar and then think of alliances," he told PTI when asked to name the parties with which the LJP would have seat adjustments in the coming election.

The Bihar crisis

A day after the dissolution of the Bihar assembly, Paswan claimed that he had been receiving telephone calls from Muslim leaders thanking him for his "tough stand" over having a Muslim chief minister for the state.

Paswan said he could have easily bargained for the post of deputy chief minister for his brother Pashupati Paras, but he sacrificed it to press for a Muslim chief minister. "If I am to blame for my rigid stand, I stick to it," he said.

Asked as to how his party would fare in the assembly election given the public perception that it was because of
his equidistance from the National Democratic Alliance and the Rashtriya Janata Dal that the state has been pushed to another polls within a year, Paswan quipped, "Twice the last elections." The LJP had won 29 seats in the 243-member House.

About RJD chief Lalu Prasad's remark that he would leave more seats for the Congress this time, Paswan said Prasad was behaving as if he was giving alms to a beggar.

"I have cordial relations with the Congress and it is for that party to decide on tie-ups. I cannot dictate to the Congress that you have an understanding with me or Lalu Prasad," he said.

Paswan said since Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also the UPA chairperson, she would never overlook other UPA constituents or take a biased view. "She will always try to carry everyone together," he said, adding that the constituents might have different views or compulsions.

He said the UPA existed only at the Centre and there was no such alliance at the state-level.

The LJP leader claimed the RJD had won 25 seats in the Lok Sabha election as it had a tie-up with his party, but it failed to garner even one-third of the seats in the state assembly as there was no tie-up between the LJP and RJD in the last election.

Paswan said he would soon convene a meeting of his party's national executive in New Delhi to discuss the political scenario and deliberate on electoral issues.

He said major rallies had been organised during the end of the month in parts of north Bihar which had a sizeable Muslim and Dalit population as the LJP wanted to consolidate its Dalit-Muslim vote-bank before the election.

The LJP leader claimed that his sacrifice for the sake of a Muslim chief minister would stand him in good stead in the polls "where the RJD will bite the dust as it has always treated the minority community as bonded labour".

Paswan is also preparing a document on why no government could be formed in Bihar and why the House had to be

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