After suffering electoral setbacks in 2009 and 2010, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan is hoping to be central to Congress plans in Bihar this time. At this Idea Exchange moderated by Senior Editor D K Singh, Paswan plays down Modi and the ‘AAP effect’ and wonders why the Congress backed AAP. The Idea Exchange was held before Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation and passage of the Telangana Bill
D K Singh: At what stage are your alliance talks in Bihar?
At first, we were in doubt about whether the Congress would align with the RJD or JD(U). After a lot of brainstorming, we decided that we would stay with the Congress and that the Congress would have to decide between the RJD and JD(U), or whether it would fight alone. When we met Sonia Gandhi recently, we realised that the Congress had decided to go with the RJD, and it was decided that the LJP-Congress-RJD alliance would go ahead. We haven’t yet made the announcement as the three parties haven’t sat down together for formal talks yet. Lalu Prasad and Soniaji have spoken to each other, we have spoken to Laluji separately, but the three parties haven’t sat down together. As far as seats are concerned, there has been no discussion regarding that. That’s one reason everyone is a little worried. It’s election time, people from all other parties have begun their work and we are still stuck on the issue of seat-sharing.
Coomi Kapoor: What is the problem regarding seat-sharing?
No one really knows what the problem is. When we ask Laluji what the issue is, he says he too doesn’t know. When we ask the Congress, they say they don’t know; and if someone asks us, we say we don’t know. I spoke to C P Joshi (Congress general secretary in charge of Bihar), and asked him to call a meeting to find a way out of this.
Coomi Kapoor: The Congress could decide to go with the JD(U) at the last minute.
The way the Congress is giving money in Bihar, or the way the JD(U) supported them during the President’s election, it appeared so. But now, when the JD(U) seems to be attacking the Congress, I don’t think that will happen. Earlier, they used to attack the BJP, now they are attacking both of them.
D K Singh: How far had your talks with Nitish Kumar progressed?
We never had any discussions with Nitish. Neither have I talked to him, nor has any office-bearer of the party. Like the saying goes, jaahan na jaye ravi, wahan jaaye kavi… We have never had any discussion on this. Yes, messages from him kept coming, saying we should have discussions, should have an alliance, but there have been no discussions at any level.