No power on this earth can stop PM Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from getting a second term, says Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and prominent Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan. Paswan, an eight-time MP since 1977, who founded the LJP, now an NDA ally in Bihar, would, however, not be contesting from Hajipur because of ill health. He said the NDA stood for nationalism and development — the keywords for this election. The Maha-gathbandhan, which is born out of sheer desperation, cannot hope to win anytime soon. Excerpts from the interview with Rajesh Kumar Thakur.
The leaders of Mahagathbandhan claim the arithmetic and the mood is on their side in Bihar and elsewhere. Your take?
The so-called Mahgathbandhan (grand-alliance), be it in Bihar or elsewhere in the country is in total disarray and doomed to disintegrate soon. “Behaal and bimar hai mahagathbandhan. Iskey andar ke matbhed, khud ke liye ghatak hoga. (The alliance is desperate and sick. Their disagreements would be suicidal). The NDA’s is a ‘natural and amicable’ alliance.
It has ruined the political fate of the Opposition leaders. The NDA has nationalism and development as the key issues and it is inclusive of all. We are a disciplined, accommodating and committed alliance.
The Opposition has accused the NDA of having bluffed people on promises made in 2014. How does the NDA see this charge?
They have no issue but one to mislead the nation by indulging in mud slinging. They don’t understand what the nation wants. The NDA’s performance chart is high and people are aware of it. There is nothing to match the performance of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Narendra Modi at the Centre. They are wasting their time. There is a saying, if you spit at the sky, you are bound to smear yourself.
What’s your prediction of the number of seats NDA will have, come May 23?
We will have a comfortable majority and bag between 350 and 365 seats. In Bihar, the NDA will get at least 35-37 seats. The GA, divided by differences, will eat into its base votes.
Your party LJP enjoys considerable support of minorities. Will they vote for you with the BJP leading the NDA?
There is not even an iota of animosity among them for the NDA. The NDA is a well-wisher of the minorities. NDA wants to amel-iorate their lives and bring change. Those from the Opposition side are trying to create a fear psychosis, which will not find traction. The minorities will vote as they also want a stable... and peaceful country.RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha and HAM’s Jitan Ram Manjhi have exited from the NDA. Will their absence hurt?
Look, they were in the NDA on their own terms and have left of their own will. The NDA is far too formidable an alliance to be shaken.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has coined a slogan- ‘Chowkidar chor hai’— to mock PM Narendra Modi’s campaign. How do you see it?
He is in effect mocking the poor who often take up such jobs. They come from SC/ST or poor families. In Bihar and UP alone, 95% chowkidars are from my caste — Paswans and Pasis. Are they thieves to face such derogatory language? PM Narendra Modi created history when he defined himself as a chowkidar and washed the feet of sanitation workers at Kumbh. Has anyone from the Opposition ever shown genuine respect to the downtrodden? Such hurtful words, as used by Congressmen, should be banned by EC.
You are often charged with promoting dynastic politics because of the number of seats given to family members. Is it right?
The LJP is a party which does not discriminate on caste lines or promotes a dynasty. It allots tickets on the basis of winnability and acceptability. Chirag, my son, is a mature and brilliant young politician in the country. His constituency has been appreciated for development by the Niti Ayog. He is more popular than me in his constituency. Should he not be given a ticket? The same is the criteria in other cases.
Will he (Chirag) get a berth in the cabinet if the NDA comes to power?
He deserves it. He is impartial and intelligent with excellent leadership qualities.
How do you see the overall mood in the country before the elections?
The country wants Narendra Modi. He will remain the PM till India is the most powerful country in the world.