Amid dissent with the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that leaving the alliance is ‘unthinkable’ and asserted that Narendra Modi will remain the Prime Minister after the next Lok Sabha polls.
Paswan, in his recent comments in Bihar, was critical of some BJP leaders' alleged communal statements, and had advised the party to take along all sections of society, setting off speculation about his future plans.
"The NDA is not in any difficulty. I had earlier said that there is no vacancy for the prime minister's post in 2019. Narendra Modi is and will remain the prime minister. The NDA will remain intact," he said.
He also made light of the talk about a federal front, saying meetings keep happening "but nothing comes out of them", and referred to the failed attempt to unite the 'Janata Parivar'.
The timing of Paswan’s remark is important because it comes weeks after Andhra Pradesh’s ruling TDP quit the NDA and Modi Cabinet over special status demand for the southern state.
Asked about speculation on his party's future plans, Paswan said any such suggestion is unthinkable. Party sources said BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, who is also Bihar in-charge, had met Paswan following his recent comments.
The Dalit leader has often switched sides in the past before elections and ended up with the winning combination.
To a question about controversial statements of some BJP leaders, including a Union minister, in Bihar, he said the government had done a lot for Dalits and minorities and its efforts should be directed at highlighting them.
While Paswan was recently critical of a section of BJP leaders from Bihar, he today added that the party has leaders like Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and Shahnawaz Hussain in the state and they cannot be considered "communal".
He also mocked the Congress for its attack on the BJP following the reverses in recent by-polls, saying the opposition party was celebrating the loss of its deposit in seats like Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
With PTI Inputs