The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Paswan stomps off

Patna, Nov. 24: Stung by the Congress spurning his overture for a poll understanding in Gujarat, Ram Vilas Paswan has decided not to campaign for secular forces led by the party in the state.

The Congress had offered the Bihar Dalit leader only one seat in Gujarat on the ground that his Lok Janshakti Party had no presence in the state.

Paswan, a former NDA minister who says he quit in protest against the Gujarat riots, is shocked by the Congress move. He claims he had earned the respect of the minorities in Bihar, a fact that could have helped consolidate the anti-BJP front. “If the Congress thinks the Dalit votes are sticking to it, it is in total illusion. I wanted to go in for a token fight and my party’s presence would have strengthened the secular forces. But the Congress offer is humiliating,” he said.

“I am not taking it personally, but the Congress certainly is not playing national politics. Instead, (it is) more focused on party interests, a reason which might have deterred it from backing the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh when (the) Mayavati government was falling apart,” he added.

“There is no point in fighting on my own in Gujarat. But I am not giving up or softening my anti-BJP tirade,” Paswan said.

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