| (From left) Ramchandra Paswan, Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan at the convention at SK Memorial Hall in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday began his battle to reclaim the Dalit support he had lost to chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Addressing a gathering of Dalits, Paswan accused the JD(U) and the BJP of adopting a divide-and-rule policy. He said: “Nitish has tried to divide the community and categorise them as Dalits and Mahadalits. It is against the philosophy and principles of B.R. Ambedkar who stressed on a casteless society.”
The LJP chief also termed Nitish a weak and coward chief minister and criticised him for not visiting Gandaman, Bagaha and the villages of the five martyrs killed in Kashmir.
He also hit out at Nitish for failing to improve the living conditions of Dalits. “Nitish talks of improving the economic condition of Dalits but they still live a miserable life. There have been talks of releasing funds for the community but in reality nothing has happened,” he said.
In the present political scenario, all major parties are vying for support of the Dalits who constitute 16 per cent of the voters.
In April this year, while addressing a meeting of the Mahadalit cell of the JD(U) in Rajgir, the chief minister called upon the Mahadalits not to let even a single vote go waste in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Even the BJP, the opposition party, has been trying to consolidate its vote bank among the Dalits. The party recently organised Bhola Paswan Shastri’s birth anniversary, a Dalit leader and former chief minister of the state. Sources said the BJP celebrated Shastri’s birth anniversary for two reasons — to woo the community in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections and widen the clout of the Dalit leadership in the party.
However, the star attraction of Wednesday’s function was actor-turned politician and son of Ram Vilas Paswan, Chirag.
He spoke about unity of all Bihari communities, including Dalits, and strengthen the party. “Nitish’s development plank has been only on paper, as the state is facing power crisis, corruption at all levels and others in reality,” he said.