Ram Vilas Paswan, the 68 year-old Lok Janshakti Party chief, has brought about a tectonic shift in the political landscape of Bihar. The man, who says is fond of playing chess and "chess-like politics" since 1969, claims to have changed both his political vision and his thoughts about God.
An LLB, MA and D.Lit (Honours Causa) from Bundelkhand University, Paswan considers himself a social activist, who has championed the cause of Dalit rights in Bihar and outside the state.
Paswan - who has been called a "man who is not a hypocrite" by Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial nominee Narendra modi and acknowledged by BJP president Rajnath Singh as the "man who removed BJP's untouchability" - says India would now aim for bigger things after the general elections in an interview with Rajesh K Thakur.
Here are the excerpts:
What type of politician do you define yourself now?
Look, I don't consider myself a politician. I am a 100% social worker who works for development and who neither compromises with his self-respect nor hurts or humiliates any other person - not even political rivals. I render my best in the service of India.
How did you ink a poll pact with the NDA led by Narendra Modi?
Time is a witness to the development. I was troubled by the controversies and the plight of the nation much earlier to the pact with the NDA. But frankly speaking, it was my son Chirag and his political acumen and vision, and the collective action of my party leaders, that moved me to cement the alliance with the BJP. I can say, I was moved by the excellent and brilliant vision for the nation as seen by Narendra Modi.
Do you think the NDA will be able to form the government at the centre, crossing all barriers put up by opponents on Modi's political credentials?
I see a real wave sweeping the country for the first time after the Jayaprakash Narain-led movement of the 1970's. It is not a mirage. It is for real. There is this urge for change and an unparalleled patriotic fervour that has tinged the mood. Modi has fired the imagination of the people everywhere. There is no arithmetic. There is no rocket science involved to understand this phenomenon. The NDA will not be short of numbers, it will actually be well over it.
This election is about issues on how governance should go forward. We are in the fray on the issue of development based politics, for establishment of the rule of law and equality in real terms in the country. The nation has virtually rejected the so-called propaganda over communalism by opponents who wanted to create a fear psychosis to wean away a particular community of country for their narrow ends. May 16 will rewrite history and promise development, stability, security, equality, peace, besides cultural and national integration.
Has Chirag emerged as a strong successor, capable of competing in politics on his own?
Chirag is a brilliant guy with development-based political vision. His vision has brought about a huge political impact all over. It was his decision to have a pact with NDA. In many ways, he has left me far behind in his political vision. Besides, he is a brilliant orator both in English and Hindi and has the power of conviction. He is also modern in outlook and knows what he wants. He will render immense service to the state and the country in the time to come.
What is important in your politics - bhagya (fate) or bhagidari (participation)?
Truly speaking, I was a nastik (atheist) earlier, not now. My outlook changed after I seriously fell ill once. I started trusting in God and the Gita. One line from the Gita - "Jo hua woh achha hua, jo ho raha hai, woh bhi achha hai, aur jo hoga wo bhi achha hoga (What happened was good, what's happening is good and what will happen will also be good)", has virtually changed my world view. I can look at the world with equanimity and I am at peace with myself. In politics, coincidences work more than fate. If one participates and pursues politics with good intentions, your fate will help you certainly.
Do you have a retirement date in mind?
(Laughs for while)... Time will say. I am totally relaxed and serving the people more energetically and emotionally. I am able to see divinity in every face of the poor. And in life, every one has to relax at some time, not necessarily retire (breaks into a guffaw).
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