Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan likes playing chess and 'chess-like politics'. An LLB, MA and D.Lit (Honours Causa) from Bundelkhand University, the 68 year-old considers himself a social activist who has championed the cause of Dalit rights in Bihar and beyond. In an interview to HT, he talks about his decision to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and his son's role behind the pact. Excerpts.
How do you see yourself as a politician?
I don't consider myself a politician. I am a 100% social worker who works for development… who never compromises with his self- respect… who never hurts or humiliates any other person, even if he/she is a political rival.
How did the pact with the NDA led by Narendra Modi come about?
I was troubled by the controversies and the plight of the nation. It was my son Chirag and his political vision as well as the collective action of my party leaders that propelled me to form an alliance with the BJP. I was moved by Narendra Modi's brilliant vision for the nation.
Do you think the NDA will be able to form the government at the Centre?
I see a real wave sweeping the country for the first time after the Jayaprakash Narayan-led movement of the 1970s. It is for real. There is an urge for change and an unparalleled patriotic fervour that has tinged the mood.
Modi has fired the imagination of the people everywhere. No rocket science is needed to understand this. The NDA will not be short of numbers, it will actually be well over it (the majority mark). We are in the fray on the issue of development-based politics. The nation has virtually rejected the so-called propaganda over communalism by opponents who wanted to create a fear psychosis.
Has your son Chirag emerged as a strong successor?
Chirag is brilliant. His political vision is based on development. 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)?
I was a nastik (atheist) earlier, but not now. My outlook changed after I took ill once. I started believing in God and Gita. 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 you a retirement date in mind?
(Laughs) Time will tell. I am totally relaxed and serving the people more energetically and emotionally (than before). I am able to see divinity in every face of the poor. And in life, everyone has to relax at some point of time… that does not necessarily men retiring.