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Ram temple & religion may be poll issues for BJP, can’t be so for NDA: Chirag Paswan

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Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan has said the BJP’s recent defeat in three state polls is a ‘warning’.

New Delhi: Days after the exit of one unhappy ally in Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have been put on notice by another in the electorally crucial state.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Chirag Paswan, the actor-turned-politician and son of party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, has said the BJP’s recent defeat in the Hindi heartland is a “khatre ki ghanti (warning)” for the party as well as its allies.

Talking to ThePrint, Paswan said while issues like Ram mandir and religion may be crucial to the BJP’s agenda, it could not be so for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the coalition it leads.

If the BJP does not go back to its 2014 campaign promises like development and employment, said Paswan, it would seal its fate.

“They [can] do whatever they need to keep their relevance but the agenda of youth and farmers should also be addressed effectively,” he added. “Otherwise, it will be a tough road ahead for all of us. We need to wake up to the real issues on the ground to win elections back.”

Farm loan waivers

For the past seven to eight months, Paswan said, he had been raising the issues of farmers’ distress and jobs with the BJP brass “on every platform available”.

“It will be a problem if they don’t listen,” he added. “They need to listen to their allies.”

Paswan said the newly formed Congress governments in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh were projecting the party as “pro-farmer” with their loan waivers, which could play a vital role in the upcoming elections, adding that he had been advocating for a national policy on writing off farm loans.

“Though I know this is not a permanent solution, it could lessen the misery of poor farmers till the government comes out with a permanent solution for this crisis, which, by the way, they should have by now,” he said.

“I come from Bihar, which has a significant agrarian segment. You say that you will double farmers’ income by 2022, but show us the blueprint for the same,” he added.

Also read: India is waiting for 2 things: Ram Mandir & India’s Got Talent winner

‘No politics of pressure’

Paswan created somewhat of a storm Wednesday when he tweeted what appeared to be a very public warning to the BJP, which has lost two major allies since 2014 — N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) — and repeatedly faces fire from another, Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena.

“The NDA is passing through a sensitive phase after the exit of the TDP and the RLSP,” he wrote. “In this light, the BJP should address the concerns of remaining allies with respect.”

In another, he warned of “harm” if a seat-sharing agreement was not finalised soon.

The chaos in the NDA family in Bihar stems from reports that the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) had agreed to contest 34 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, leaving just six for the remaining two allies, the LJP and the RLSP.

In 2014, when the JD(U) was not in the NDA, the BJP had contested 30 seats, while the LJP got seven and the RLSP three. The BJP ended up winning 22, the LJP and the RLSP won six and three, respectively.

It is amid these differences that Kushwaha exited the NDA earlier this month.

Some political watchers say the Paswans excel at reading the writing on the wall and might be planning to jump off a “weak” NDA ahead of 2019. However, Paswan dismissed reports about their impending departure from the NDA as conjecture.

Talking about his tweets, he said they were not meant to pressure the BJP. “When I talked about the delay in the declaration of a seat-sharing agreement in my tweets, many misconstrued it as pressure politics to get more seats,” he said.

“We know how many seats we will get. And we are OK with it,” he added. “It has more to do with expressing our inability to make the BJP see that they are losing ground and can lose more if they won’t do any course-correction soon.”

All they wanted, he said, was for the BJP to declare the exact seat-sharing agreement they had arrived at.

“I have sent them many warning signals, but they overlooked all,” he added. “This is not just about six assembly seats that we may get after Upendraji’s departure from the alliance. We want to keep our strike rate better in the Lok Sabha as well.”

Also read: Ram Mandir is so 1992 and Modi knows it


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