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LJP – A House Deserted

6 November 2010 View Comments

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)

Leader: Ramvilas Paswan
Election Symbol: Bungalow
Alliance Partner: RJD
Contesting: 75 out of 243 seats

Ramvilas Paswan seems to have made the most famous blunder of this election. At the end of a successful, war of nerves with RJD supermo, Lalu Prasad to bargain for maximum number of seats for LJP in their alliance, he announced the name of his younger brother Pashupati Nath Paras as LJP nominee for Deputy Chief Minister along with RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadva as the Chief Ministerial candidate. In one stroke he undid all the gains of previous election when he had thrown the bait of a ‘Muslim’ Chief Minister landing both Lalu and Nitish in a fix. This time around he tried to silently bury his insistence of ‘Muslim’ CM, replacing it with the candidature of his younger brother. What followed was a virtual desertion. Muslims left his party in droves. His entire ‘Minority cell’ as well as the sole Muslim MLA in the outgoing assembly all threw their lot with JDU. The mass exodus allowed Nitish to quip that the rate people were deserting his bungalow (Electoral Symbol of LJP), it will soon turn into a’Bhoot Bungalow'(Haunted House).

Ramvilas Paswan

Ramvilas Paswan addressing the media

LJP seems to be at its lowest ebb with Ramvilas having lost his touch. He has been lackluster since the time he was himself defeated by an 88 year old Ramsundar Das from Hajipur in the 2009 MP Elections. This was the same seat from where he had once won with world record margin. Since the defeat, he has spent a majority of his time in Delhi and has only been an occasional visitor to Bihar. He later had to seek Lalu’s blessings to get into the Rajya Sabha on the back RJD’d numerical strength. Apart from his defeat in the MP Elections, he has been fatally wounded by the Nitish’s strategy of dividing his Dalit vote bank. In an audacious attempt to pry open Ramvilas’s vote bank, Nitish Kumar classified 21 out 22 Dalit castes as ‘MahaDalits’. Special scheme were drawn up to provide free land, vocational training and other amenities to the MahaDalits on grounds that all the benefits earlier provided to the Dalits were being monopolized by the relatively better off Paswans(Dusadh) (the community to which Ramvilas himself belongs and which is the only Dalit community that has been excluded from MahaDalits). This has left Ramvilas seething with anger. How far does this strategy benefit Nitish Kumar electorally is still to be tested on the ground, but it has definitely made him jittery. For a man who was earlier considered a lucky charm and was actively wooed by all factions leading to ministerial berths in Union cabinet under 5 Prime Ministers from 1996 to 2009 continuously, this is a fall that is hard to digest. He had started off being equidistant from both Nitish and Lalu and was a staunch critic of Lalu for his non performance. He had famously claimed he had the keys to Lalu’s comeback to power but he had thrown them in the Ganges. His frequent volte faces though have turned him into the fall guy. By bargaining hard this time too, he seems to have dug the grave for the RJD-LJP alliance.

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