Even as LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan and his actor-turned-politician son Chirag are working out the details of a possible tie-up with the BJP, the Bihar politician may not find it easy to convince his supporters.
Twelve years ago, on April 29, 2002, Paswan, then the Union Coal and Mines Minister, resigned his ministerial post and walked out of the NDA in protest against the Gujarat riots and the violence against Muslims. If Paswan rejoins the NDA, he will have to do business with BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, whose continuation as Gujarat CM was the reason why he left the alliance.
While resigning, Paswan had said that the then Vajpayee government’s policy of inaction and not imposing President’s Rule in Gujarat was responsible for the deteriorating communal environment in the state.
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A day after his resignation, Paswan had also delivered a strongly-worded speech in the Lok Sabha in which, among other things, he asserted that the country was “losing face at the international level” due to the riots. He was participating in a discussion on an Opposition-sponsored motion to express “grave concern over failure of administration in ensuring security of minority community in various parts of the country, especially in Gujarat”. The motion was negatived after a lengthy debate.
Questioning the failure of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in ensuring the ouster of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, Paswan had told the House, “In parliamentary democracy, there is only one main switch. When the Prime Minister visited Gujarat (Vajpayee went to Gujarat after the riots and criticised the Modi government for inaction), people hoped there would be a change in leadership in the state. But when that didn’t happen, people were disappointed… I want that the feeling (for Modi’s removal) among some NDA allies and general public should be considered and action taken to remove the leader (Modi). The Prime Minister has himself said that nobody should do politics over dead bodies.”
He had further warned that “what is happening in Gujarat poses the danger of creating an extremist in every house… The incidents in Gujarat don’t pertain only to Gujarat. It will have reverberations across the country.” He had said that if the interest of a person was treated as being above the interest of the country, it could lead to a dangerous situation.