New Delhi: Exactly a year after the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) exited the Grand Alliance in Bihar and joined the NDA, the state’s politics is on the cusp of another imminent upheaval with Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) saying its “patience is now running thin” with ally NDA and virtually putting the government on the mat over the dalit issue by asking it to restore the stringent provisions of the SC/ST atrocities law by August 9 — the day on which dalit organisations across the country and farmer’s organisations are holding a Bharat Bandh.
The Congress was quick to capitalise on the trouble between the allies with the party’s Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil welcoming the LJP statement. The realisation that the Modi government was anti-dalit was “better late than never” for Mr Paswan, Mr Gohil told this newspaper.
Sources in the Congress said that the party was viewing Mr Paswan’s comments as the beginning of his exit from the NDA along with Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha.
The sources also claimed that discussions have been held between the top leadership of the LJP and Rashtriya Janata Dal for the former’s entry into the Grand Alliance. The LJP, which has six MPs in Lok Sabha, draws its core support from dalits in Bihar.
“Before exiting the NDA, the LJP is trying to give a message to this core constituency and seeking to protect its hold over it,” a senior Bihar Congress leader said.
Another viewpoint is that Mr Paswan’s exit from the NDA will let the BJP keep more seats aside for Nitish Kumar who is also up in arms over seat sharing for the 2019 general polls.
At a press conference here, LJP MP and Union minister Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan also demanded that Justice A.K. Goel, who gave the order diluting the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, like immediate arrest of a person committing an atrocity against a dalit, should also be removed from his new position as chief of National Green Tribunal by August 9.
He said that the patience of many within the LJP is running thin as circumstances raising concerns of the dalits and tribals have emerged of late. Protecting interests of these communities was at the root of the LJP’s tie up with the BJP in 2014, he added.
However, when asked if his party would consider walking out of the BJP-led NDA if its demands are not met by the August 9 deadline, he said: “We will cross the bridge when it comes.”