BJP and its oldest ally Shiv Sena may have parted ways and the Modi wave may have taken a beating in the assembly by-elections but another key NDA constituent Lok Janshakti Party does not feel that it may be the beginning of the saffron coalition’s erosion.
LJP Chief and Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also do not agree with reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was overwhelming in the Cabinet in which ministers had no freedom to function.
He says Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls are different from each other and issues are different.
“Modi says he will not target Bal Thackeray. Shiv Sena says it will not attack BJP at the Centre and would be part of the NDA coalition. This sums up the relationship among allies at the Centre,” Paswan told analysing the coalition troubles at the state level and downplaying their impact at the national level.
Giving full credit to Narendra Modi for the victory of the alliance in Lok Sabha polls, Paswan, whose party LJP is an ally of NDA in Bihar, said the state elections are a different ball game where every party has to face the pressure of its cadres and the break-up of NDA alliance in Maharashtra should be seen in this context.
“BJP-Shiv Sena break-up in upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls is not a sign of the NDA alliance collapsing. In Maharashtra, even Congress-NCP could not fight the election together. State elections are a different ball game. Workers of all parties pressure the leadership for tickets. The leaders of parties have to accommodate the maximum,” Paswan said.
The LJP Chief, whose party was the first major political outfit to hitch its wagon to Narendra Modi-led BJP before the Lok Sabha polls, also dismissed speculation that ministers do not have a free hand in the new dispensation.
“It is wrong to say the ministers do not have freedom to speak. There is no ban on ministers from airing their opinions. Modi government means work. It is also not proper that ministers go on speaking and painting a rosy picture of their departments while doing nothing on ground.
“I do not believe that ministers do not have freedom to work. Rather, the ministers are asked now to do more work in a time-bound manner and with fixed targets,” he said.
Though Paswan evaded a direct answer as to whether he feels uncomfortable with issues like ‘Love Jihad’, which was raised before Uttar Pradesh assembly bypolls, he said “one is an English word (Love) and the other is Urdu (Jihad). I fail to understand its meaning.”
He said that he welcomes RSS Chief Mohan Bhagawat’s pitch to end casteism but believes that caste system can be weakened in the most effective manner by encouraging inter-caste and inter-religion marriages.