Support of either Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party is a must if a Third Front has to emerge after the general elections next year, Lok Janshakti Party chief Vilas Paswan has said.
"See, a Third Front is not possible without the support of BJP or Congress. Their support is mandatory. Since the alliance would have to be secular, it can't take BJP's support and it will have to take Congress' support. That is why I have stated the main issue is Congress, and LJP wants to maintain an alliance with Congress," Paswan told PTI in an interview.
With Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad landing in jail in connection with the Fodder Scam, Paswan said there was a need for serious discussion among the current allies to decide on the future course ahead of the 2014 elections.
He said LJP is interested in staying in alliance with Congress but the onus is on the ruling party to decide on their partners.
"We want our alliance with Congress to stay, but they have to decide on the future course of the alliance. At the moment, we are together with RJD but now that Laluji is in jail, and election time is nearing, there is a need for a serious discussion among the parties," Paswan said.
Once an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance front, Paswan, a Rajya Sabha MP, claimed it was the demolition of the Babri Masjid which went against the party's prospects.
"An issue can be worked out only once. Had the Babri Masjid not been demolished, BJP would not have been reduced to this dismal state. They could have banked upon votes on that issue. But with its demolition, Babri Masjid as an issue also ceased for BJP.
"It was a mistake by BJP. Had the Babri Masjid not been demolished, BJP would have kept coming to power," claimed Paswan.
On what could be the next move by Lok Janshakti Party regarding their alliance with either BJP or Congress, the former Union Minister said, "We will sit together and discuss the issue. We will see what move Congress makes, but Congress and ours has been an old alliance, we do not want to lose them. We will first talk to Congress and see their move, only then we will decide our strategy."
However, he made it clear that his support post elections would be only with "secular forces".
"We have said our alliance is with secular forces. And we will try that our alliance with Congress continues," Paswan said.
He alleged that Congress has been "dithering" over taking a clear stance on joining the LJP-RJD alliance in Bihar.
"I think there are three types of people in the Congress party. Some want Congress to contest alone, some want Congress, LJP and JD-U to fight together and some want Congress, LJP-RJD to come together. I think after these elections, Congress will discuss this," he said.
The former Railways minister also attacked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for being "in the garb" of secularism and not taking a "secular stand" after 2002 Gujarat riots.
"Nitish Kumar today shows like he is tees maar khan (clever jack), but we both were ministers in 2002 and I had resigned from my post on the Gujarat issue, why didn't he resign back then?" Paswan said.
The veteran politician, who still holds the record for winning an election by the highest margin, had thrived on the issues of backward class and empowerment of Dalits during his heydays. Over time, the issue has become synonymous with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Paswan's connect with the issue faded.
Paswan, 67, accused Mayawati of being an opportunist.
"It is a matter of time. Once on the name of Mandal (commission) all backward classes were allied together. After its implementation, all of them separated and Mayawati was not even heard of then. But as they were empowered, with time more divisions at caste levels emerged.
"When she (Mayawati) needs them, she talks of Dalit. When she does not need, them she says 'Sarv-Dharm sammaan'," Paswan said.
The MP, who had emerged as a young turk post the mass movement under JP Narayan in late 70s, said "Earlier, political parties studied and worked on ideologies. Now, that has stopped. People have become 'power driven'. Even the workers in the party see that when I am with you, am I getting any benefits or not?"