Ram Vilas Paswan meets Amit Shah to talk over Bihar ‘status’

The Asian Age.  | Sreeparna Chakrabarty

India, All India

The Congress, the third constituent of the erstwhile Grand Alliance, is, however, quiet on aligning with the JD(U) again.

Union minster Ram Vilas Paswan

New Delhi: Signifying new political alignments at work, Union minster Ram Vilas Paswan, whose Lok Janashakti Party is an NDA constituent, met BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday and put forward a request for special status for Bihar, a demand made by chief minister Nitish Kumar just a couple of days ago.

The duo had been on opposite sides of the political divide just a year before, with Mr Kumar being the chief minister of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance and Mr Paswan as an NDA minister in the Union Cabinet. Things have changed since then and after Mr Kumar joined the NDA, both leaders have developed a “very good working relationship”, sources said.

“As far as special status for Bihar is concerned, we have been demanding it. Bihar is a backward state, so the status must be granted to it. Government must listen to our pleas,” Mr Paswan told this newspaper.

Mr Kumar’s move of seeking special status at a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) last week despite the same being rejected by the Niti Aayog and his questioning demonetisation, though he had praised it earlier, had sparked speculation of the JD(U) chief trying to do a Chandrababu Naidu on the Modi government. The TDP chief had exited the NDA over demands for special status for Andhra Pradesh.

However, JD(U) sources scotched such rumours saying that though the chief minister was likely to keep putting pressure on the Centre and even go to the extent of organising protests and rallies against the Modi government’s policies, he was unlikely to exit the NDA till the general elections.

“Any such call will be taken after the 2019 general elections after analysing who has got how many seats,” a senior JD(U) leader, who did not wish to be named, told this newspaper.

He maintained that it was not possible for the JD(U) chief to work with the RJD. Former deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav have also made some scathing comments on Mr Kumar going to the extent of calling him a turncoat.

It might be recalled that since joining the NDA, the JD(U) has suffered a series of poll reverses, chief among them being the bypolls in Araria and Jokihat where the RJD romped home to victory.

The Congress, the third constituent of the erstwhile Grand Alliance, is, however, quiet on aligning with the JD(U) again.