New Delhi -°C
Today in New Delhi, India

Dec 13, 2019-Friday
-°C

Humidity
-

Wind
-

Select city

Metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Other cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal , Chandigarh , Dehradun, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi

Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

‘No need to worry on quota till Paswans are in Parliament,’ says LJP’s Chirag Paswan

In an interview with Hindustan Times, the LJP’s parliamentary board president, Chirag Paswan, discussed wide ranging issues concerning politics, party and personal life.

patna Updated: Feb 24, 2019 13:25 IST
B Vijay Murty
B Vijay Murty
Hindustan Times
Chirag Paswan is leading the party from the front, taking deft decisions and representing Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) at crucial meetings both in and out of the parliament while elder Paswan mentors him from behind.
Chirag Paswan is leading the party from the front, taking deft decisions and representing Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) at crucial meetings both in and out of the parliament while elder Paswan mentors him from behind.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
         

Tall and handsome with chiseled body and funky hairdo, he seemed a novice in Indian politics till recently when he sent the entire BJP leadership into a tizzy through a series of tweets in Hindi. “Act before it’s too late”, he warned the BJP in one of his tweets, adding, “delay in consensus over seat sharing could be damaging for NDA’s poll prospect”. Barely hours after his tweets, top BJP leaders invited him over a meeting and wasted no time committing him six Bihar Lok Sabha seats to contest in the forthcoming polls, besides a Rajya Sabha berth for his father.

Till as recently as December 18, 2018, LJP meant Ram Vilas Paswan. That’s passé now and his son, Chirag Paswan, his heir apparent, has virtually taken over reigns of party. He is leading the party from the front, taking deft decisions and representing Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) at crucial meetings both in and out of the parliament while elder Paswan mentors him from behind. In an interview, the LJP’s parliamentary board president, Chirag Paswan discussed wide ranging issues concerning politics, party and personal life.

What prompted you to make the series of tweets at a time when several NDA allies like Telugu Dessam Party (TDP) and Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party (RLSP) were deserting NDA and switching to UPA?

I was genuinely concerned as it was getting too late. I realized that the questions rising in my mind must be flagged now else the damage might be done. Smaller parties, like ours, have to reach out to the voters early with our plans and programs. Both BJP and JD (U) were engaged in talks while we were left out. Talks among allies were required to begin and seats had to be locked. There was no other intent, except NDA’s interest.

How far have the talks moved except that you would be contesting 6 out of the 40 seats in Bihar while BJP and JD (U), the other NDA allies, would fight 17 each?

It has not progressed much. We haven’t finalized talks on selection of seats yet. Only formal meetings have taken place so far. We are open to swapping few sitting seats with alliance partners to ensure synergy but there are a few that we would like to retain. Hopefully, we would be able to finalise it before March 3 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Nitish Kumarji and my father would launch NDA’s election campaign in Bihar from the historic Gandhi Maidan.

Now that your father has decided to move to Rajya Sabha, who will contest Hajipur? Talks doing the rounds reveal that your mother will contest the seat?

The parliamentary board will decide whom to field from Hajipur. My mother is comfortable remaining out of politics. Take it from me that she will never contest elections.

How about Jamui seat? Would you switch to another seat or seek re-election from there?

I would prefer to seek a second term from Jamui.

How do you take the allegation that LJP is a family run party?

I humbly take the allegations heads down and accept that several members of my extended family are in the party. Having said that I would also wish to bring to your kind notice that only four names—his father Ram Vilas Paswan, his uncles, Ram Chandra Paswan, Pashupati Kumar Paras and himself – are given so much importance by the media and others, but there are several committed leaders who occupy top posts and have been associated with the party since its inception. Their role and achievements has skipped media attention. To name a few, we have Dr Satyanand Sharma and Suraj Bhan Singh, national vice-presidents, whose decisions are widely respected in the party and they have contributed immensely towards the party’s growth. In the last assembly polls, out of the 42 candidates we had fielded, only three were from my family.

What’s your opinion about Congress president Rahul Gandhi who you had praised in few of the television debates?

He has improved a lot and should get his due if he is delivering. I praised him because, of late, he is raising issues that we had been raising for last several years like arresting unemployment, farmers uplift and poverty alleviation. I have told in clear terms to our NDA leadership that we need to go back to our motto sabka sath sabka vikas (support of all, development for all) if we are to repeat the 2014 performance. As regards to Rahul Gandhi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions, I would say there is no vacancy this election, better luck in 2024.

How many seats the NDA is likely to bag this election?

We would certainly better our performance. Don’t be surprised if we cross the magical 400 mark. I am saying this because all NDA partners have a strong cadre base and the right mix of caste combination. In Bihar, all three NDA allies have worked considerably for the uplift of marginalized sections.

Do you foresee any threat to the existing quota system and the need to revisit it after the 10 % reservation to the poor upper castes?

As long as Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan are there in the parliament, there is no need for weaker sections to worry on this count. Reservations are guaranteed to them and will not be touched at any cost. Our Prime Minister is also very clear on this.

When is Chirag Paswan officially taking over reigns of LJP from his father and where does he foresee his party in the coming years?

A decision on my elevation would be taken by the party’s leaders and cadres. We have larger goals and are working hard to expand our base in other states. From six MPs, our goal is to take LJP’s tally to at least 60 MPs. We are very strong in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. In fact, we have demanded a seat to contest in Uttar Pradesh this coming election. There are a lot of followers of our national president in that state. We could have won several seats if we had contested the UP assembly polls, but we preferred supporting BJP.

You are an actor-turned-politician. Are you still attached with Bollywood?

I have realized that films and politics cannot go hand in hand. Politics comes with a lot of responsibility.

When is Chirag Paswan getting married?

(Laughs).. Not in the near future. That’s for my parents to decide.