LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan speaks on his ambition, corruption, alliance with Lalu Prasad, Varun Gandhi et al in a freewheeling interaction with Ashok Mishra. Excerpts:
Now that you have joined hands with Lalu and Mulayam, would you pitch for the top job if three of you get a sizeable number of seats in UP and Bihar?
Every person in politics wants to become the Prime Minister. If I don’t say that it would be hypocrisy.
But there are two situations when one becomes Prime Minister.
First, when his party emerges as the single largest party with adequate numbers. Second, when a coalition is cobbled up with like-minded parties or groups. In the second case, a person on whom a consensus is arrived becomes the Prime Minister. In the past, H D Dewe Gowda became the Prime Minister despite less number of seats since the partners were unanimous on his name. But all such presumptions will depend upon the poll outcome.
Will you accept the post, if offered like Dewe Gowda was?
It will depend on the number of seats our formation (Samajwadi Party, RJD and LJP) gets. If we have over 60 seats, we will certainly have the strength to bargain with Congress and other allies of the UPA. But the decision on who would be Prime Minister would be taken at that point of time. The less controversial amongst us may take over.
The issue of Dalit as Prime Minister has been the focal point of every political outfit in the last few years. Where do you place yourself in the entire scheme of things?
There are two ways to attain this goal. Either, the Dalits should achieve it themselves by remaining united throughout the country as one political entity or they should be given the post as per the Constitutional obligation. But I feel there is a need to realise this goal through both the ways.
Had you not been a Dalit leader, would you have aspired for the post?
I would have been a big leader much earlier had I not been a Paswan. But being a Paswan certainly helped me climb the political ladder...I would like to be referred to as a casteless leader.