The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kingmaker looks for Muslim ice-breaker
- Delhi rule call to 'save' state

Patna, Feb. 27: Ram Vilas Paswan, who has emerged as the biggest star of the Bihar election, wants President's rule for now.

'It could be for any period. Uttar Pradesh saw central rule for a year when a hung Assembly was returned. Manmohan Singh is an honest Prime Minister; he will do no wrong in Bihar. The governor is the Centre's emissary. Let such a rule cleanse this state of the filth that has gathered in 15 years,' Paswan told The Telegraph in his hotel suite today.

The strategy for 'salvaging' Bihar, he explained, should focus on three things ' better law and order, stress on development and protecting social harmony. A Rashtriya Janata Dal-led government cannot do the first two ('we have seen that in 15 years'), and the third is way off the policies of the 'communal' National Democratic Alliance, he said.

'I refuse to see the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP as separate entities. The results are overwhelmingly against the RJD, but for me the mandate is also against the NDA. I cannot forget that Muslims sided with the LJP, dumping the appeals of Laloo Prasad Yadav. Nurse no confusion; I will support neither. I do not want to be chief minister and regret when things start falling apart,' Paswan added.

Government formation or its urgency is not a priority with Paswan, the seniormost in the group that calls the shots in Bihar politics. He has been in politics since 1969 when Laloo Prasad and Nitish Kumar were still learning their lessons.

For the 'long run', Paswan has a clear road map. 'Fifteen years was a long run. The biggest achievement of these elections is that a reluctant electorate now believes that change is possible. The trend can only get stronger. Laloo Prasad's Muslim-Yadav formula is shattered. The time is ripe for an all-inclusive appeal in which no social group feels alienated. Herein lies the future of Bihar and I alone stand for this politics,' he said.

Paswan said he was not interested in a more important portfolio in the Manmohan Singh government, not even the railway ministry that Laloo Prasad had beaten him to. 'I am not interested. The Congress and its president are well aware of my stand. I am sure they will not pressure me into anything. Laloo Prasad calls me a mobile party. Well said, I got mobile phones for everyone as the Union communications minister,' he said.

The LJP leader's attacks on the RJD have only become more stinging. 'Kahan hai Laloo lehar jiski woh baat karte the' (Where is the Laloo wave he used to talk about') The RJD did well in the Lok Sabha elections only because I supported the alliance. I do not want to pour old wine in a new bottle by supporting the RJD, a party that worked against the Congress and now presents it as a partner,' he said.

Paswan stressed that NDA was the only pre-poll alliance in Bihar. 'The UPA was hardly a pre-election combination. I went on an almost 'ekla chalo' (walk alone) path. My mission was to remove the RJD and I am happy that goal has been now accomplished. I am satisfied with the results but in the normal course, I would have won 60 seats,' he said.

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