Paswan may return to NDA fold

Paswan may return to NDA fold

In what appears to be a shot in the arm for the BJP which is desperately seeking new allies, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan appears to have jettisoned his abhorrence for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and is mulling over a proposal to return to the NDA fold.

Ironically, Paswan, who served in the Vajpayee ministry as Union Communications Minister and later as Coal Minister, had left the NDA in 2002 over the Gujarat riots issue. He had slammed Modi in no uncertain terms before severing LJP’s ties with the BJP. Since then he had been with the UPA and, till recently, was engaged in seat-sharing talks with the Congress, RJD and the NCP in Bihar.

But two developments in the last one week have forced Paswan to hold backroom channels with the BJP.

First, the Congress mandarins are not in favour of leaving  two Lok Sabha seats for LJP leaders who had criminal background. Paswan was, however, adamant that his two aides — Surajbhan Singh and Rama Singh (both facing criminal cases including kidnapping and murder) — were given tickets from Bihar.

Besides, these two shady leaders, Paswan wanted another eight seats for the LJP which included himself, son Chirag Paswan and his brother Ram Chandra Paswan.
Secondly, the CBI was zeroing in on the LJP chief in a case related to the fake appointments made in the Bokaro Steel Plant.

This scam took place when Paswan was Union Steel Minister in the UPA-I. Many high and mighty from Bihar and Jharkhand are believed to be involved in the “appointment racket”.

The BJP, however, came out in defence of Paswan here on Sunday. “The Congress is using the CBI to force Paswan to stay with the UPA and is therefore (mis)using the appointment scam in Bokaro Steel,” said senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, dropping ample hints that BJP had been holding parleys with the Dalit leader, who could not even retain his parliamentary seat from Hajipur in 2009.

Meanwhile, the BJP got a further boost when Rashtriya Lok Samata Party president Upendra Kushwaha, along with ex-MP Arun Kumar, joined hands with the BJP.

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