Talks for an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are underway. Paswan talks about the delay in finalising seat sharing by the RJD and the Congress that may have pushed him closer to the BJP.
What provoked the LJP to explore "other options" for poll alliance?
The delay in initiating seat-sharing talks with the Congress and the RJD was unbearable. Leaders of our parties did not have even one joint meeting in the past six months. Uncharitable remarks were made by the RJD camp. One RJD leader said the LJP must first parade its "pahalwans" (wrestlers) before demanding seats. While seat sharing talks had not even begun, RJD leaders started campaigning in seats where the LJP had claims. Such attitude is not good.
You have always asserted that the LJP would go with the Congress. Why the u-turn?
I met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi twice, but there was a lack of seriousness from the Congress side. The LJP is a small regional party; our very existence was coming under threat.
Has the LJP gained from its 10-year alliance with the RJD?
On the contrary, the LJP has been virtually decimated. When we fought assembly elections independently in 2005, the LJP returned with 29 seats.
Will a pre-poll pact with the NDA not compromise your known position against "communal forces"?
Was the JD(U)'s position on secularism compromised because of Nitish Kumar's tie-up with the BJP for 17 years? The LJP has its own constitution and will have a separate manifesto. There is no question of diluting our position on secularism.
What is the progress on seat sharing talks with the BJP?
I ran into BJP chief Rajnath Singh at a wedding function recently, but have not met him separately or discussed seat sharing issues. I spoke to him once on the telephone.