His inclusion in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is already regarded as a minor coup of sorts for the BJP in terms of eating into the so-called “secular” camp ahead of elections. Now Ramvilas Paswan’s political credentials as a champion of the Dalits and the Muslims may be used outside Bihar too.
Sources said the BJP’s PM Narendra Modi spoke to Paswan and suggested that he join him in campaigns at select places outside Bihar. The conversation took place over phone soon after the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP)’s alliance with the BJP was formalised. Hence, chances are that Paswan may be seen at rallies wending through places where the backward and minority votes are a deciding factor.
“Over the phone he (Modi) told Paswan to leave Bihar’s campaign-related responsibilities on senior party leaders, specially his son, and accompany him in rallies outside the state. And Paswan has agreed to do so,” said a senior LJP functionary.
Paswan, who has nursed his secular credentials for the past 12 years, and who a few years ago suggested that a Muslim be made Bihar CM, is regarded as a potential mascot for the NDA for drawing Dalit and Muslim votes from across India. Dalits alone comprise around 16 per cent of the population.
Party sources said Paswan has decided to contest from Hajipur, despite his term as a Rajya Sabha MP ending two years from now and despite him losing from there in 2009. So, much of Paswan’s time in campaign will be devoted to Bihar. But LJP sources said he has decided to make time for outings elsewhere and share the stage with Modi. The Gujarat CM has also recently said he believed the coming decade would belong to the Dalits and other backward classes.