The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jilted Paswan lectures Sonia

New Delhi, Feb. 14: Former Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan has urged the Congress to form a coalition on the lines of the NDA to take on the BJP-led alliance at the national level.

Miffed at Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s refusal to tie up with his party in Himachal Pradesh, Paswan today released a list of 30 candidates for the 68-member Assembly polls.

Paswan said the Congress should not go only by prestige and must understand the political realities in each state. Paswan said that after the poll debacle in Gujarat, he thought that the Congress would sincerely try to forge an alliance with all like-minded parties, but that did not happen.

Without ruling out an electoral pact with the Congress at the national level, Paswan said that in Himachal Pradesh, there was no need for him to support the Congress as neither secularism nor communalism — as was the case in Gujarat — was an issue in the state.

With 2 per cent minorities in the state, the burning issues were rampant corruption, unemployment and development, and not communal politics, Paswan pointed out. He was accompanied by senior party leader Arif Mohammad Khan.

Asked if secular parties like the Janshakti and the Nationalist Congress Party going it alone would divide anti-BJP votes, Paswan said: “We are not there to cut anybody’s votes. We have not opened any dharamshala.”

Expressing concern at the increasing attacks on Dalits in the country, he said the Lok Sabha Speaker has agreed to a debate during the first week of the budget session on the lynching of five Dalits in Jhajjar in Haryana last year and atrocities on them.

Paswan said that earlier, Dalits were subjected to attacks in Bihar and Uttar Padesh, but now Haryana has also become notorious for it.

After the Jhajjar incident, more than 250 Dalit families were subjected to physical assault, loot and arson in Harsaul village of Kiathal district in Haryana last week. The fear was such that villagers fled the area and took shelter in Gita Bhawan, he added.

Paswan said the LJP would organise a rally against the Uttar Pradesh government’s order diluting the Prevention of Atrocities Against Dalits Act in March. When Mulayam Singh Yadav and later Kalyan Singh were chief ministers, Mayavati and Kanshi Ram shed crocodile tears and dubbed them as anti-Dalit, but now she was using them for her vote bank, Paswan alleged.

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