| Laloo Prasad buys the first ticket from a railway reservation centre at AIIMS in Delhi that he inaugurated on Friday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Aug. 20: A new anti-Laloo Prasad Yadav, anti-BJP front is taking shape in Patna, with leaders from the BJP, Janata Dal (United), Bihar People’s Party and the Bihar Vikas Manch flocking to the Lok Janshakti Party.
With Bihar elections less than six months away, leaders of the new front today projected LJP chief and Union minister for chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan as their chief ministerial candidate. They have pledged to oust Laloo Prasad who, along with chief minister Rabri Devi, has ruled Bihar for the last 14 years.
The BJP has been jolted by the exit of former Union ministers Nagmani and Sanjay Paswan during the last 48 hours. Nagmani, a backward caste Koeri, has joined Paswan’s party.
Others to have done so are Ranjan Prasad Yadav, a former acolyte of Laloo Prasad who floated the Bihar Vikas Manch, People’s Party leader and former MP Anand Mohan — a Rajput — Kali Pandey, a former Independent MP, and former Dal (U) MP Manjay Lal.
“We are a viable non-communal alternative in Bihar. The coming Assembly elections in the state will prove that people no longer have to depend on the NDA to fulfil their aspirations to get rid of the anti-people jungle raj of the (Laloo Prasad-led) RJD,” Paswan said.
Trashing the idea that his tirade against the RJD sat awkwardly with his being part of the UPA, the LJP leader said there was no contradiction since it was the Congress that headed the ruling alliance. “I am with Sonia Gandhi and not Laloo Yadav,” he said.
Paswan cited the example of the Left parties which support the Congress at the Centre, but oppose it in Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, and added that there was no contradiction in his fighting fellow UPA member the RJD in Bihar.
The minister said he would never again back the NDA as he could not ignore the sentiments of the minorities.
The LJP chief said his party could form the next government, adding: “NDA is not at all in a position to give a fight to the RJD.” Ruling out a front with other parties, Paswan said his party would go it alone in the elections; those opposed to Laloo Prasad could join his party.
Nagmani, who has just quit the BJP, said Paswan would be the disgruntled leaders’ “undisputed” choice for chief ministership.
Sanjay Paswan, an acolyte of BJP ideologue K. Govindacharya, is likely to join the RJD or the Congress. After quitting the BJP, he said Dalits, minorities and the poor do not have a “respectable position” in the party.
Some prominent Dal (U) leaders — former chief minister Jagannath Mishra, senior leader Shyamsunder Dheeraj and MLAs Satish Kumar, Ganesh Yadav and Munazir Hussein — are also likely to join the LJP.