Defeated in the Bihar election, NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) said several comments from RSS and BJP leaders on issues like caste-based reservation, the Dadri incident and “conservation of cows” helped consolidate the crucial Muslim-Yadav vote bank in favour of the Grand Alliance and in effect sealed the fate of the BJP combine.
Having bargained hard to bag 40 seats to contest as part of the NDA, the LJP managed to win only two.
“Comments by (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat, (Union Minister) V K Singh, and statements by several elements following the incident in Dadri helped consolidate the Muslim-Yadav votes for Lalu Prasad. After that, no matter how much we tried, those voters had already made up their minds,” Abdul Khalique, national general secretary of the LJP, told The Indian Express.
“Although Bhagwat in the interview (to RSS mouthpiece Organiser) did not say that caste-based reservation should be abolished, Lalu did a convenient interpretation of the statement and ran with it,” he said.
The Grand Alliance, the party said, was able to politically exploit statements made by several BJP leaders during the campaign. “An incident like Dadri, which happened under the watch of the Akhilesh Yadav government, and where the Centre had no role, got exploited by Lalu-Nitish politically in Bihar,” said LJP national spokesman Sanjay Saraf. “Similarly, all comments that came from the various (BJP) leaders were well exploited by the other side. If you review the chronology of the statements, the NDA leaders were never the first to raise these issues.”
Barely a couple of days before the results, senior party leader and Paswan’s son Chirag had said the BJP’s adverts on cow conservation during the campaign and statements by V K Singh were “just not needed”.
Paswan and his son spent the day behind closed doors at their residence in Delhi. Chirag made a brief appearance before the media in the morning. “The NDA allies will sit together and do an assessment of the strategy and what went wrong,” he said.