The Lok Jan Shakti Party has set August 9 as the deadline for the Narendra Modi government to bring in an Ordinance to undo the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The chairman of the LJP Parliamentary Board,
Chirag

Paswan
,
speaks
on their demands and the overall political scenario.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said on various forums that alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will be enough to defeat the NDA government. Do you agree?

I don’t understand Rahul
ji
’s calculations. If you talk about Bihar, we must recall the 2014 polls. In Bihar, it was a three-cornered fight. The Congress and the RJD were in alliance, Nitish
ji
was fighting alone and there was the NDA. With Nitish
ji
joining us, we are stronger. Last time, we got 31 out of 40 seats. This time, I will not be surprised if we get all the 40 seats. In U.P. we will have to see how the Akhilesh-Mayawati alliance works. We have seen some rifts between the two on various issues. It remains to be seen whether they will actually stick together till the 2019 elections. There is certainly no future for the UPA, especially under the leadership of the Congress.

It’s been four months since the Supreme Court judgment. What is stopping the Narendra Modi government from bringing in an Ordinance to restore the SC &ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to its earlier form?

I have no idea what is stopping the government. We in the LJP have repeatedly voiced our demands since the day the verdict came on March 20, which has made this law absolutely toothless. This law is the only shield available for our community. You can’t bring in an Ordinance during the Parliament session. So we demand that the Bill be reintroduced in this session. Whatever medium the government chooses, Ordinance or reintroducing the Bill, the Act must be restored to its original shape.

You steered your father and party from the UPA to the NDA. In retrospect do you think it was the right decision?

Of course, I do think it was the right decision. We have an issue-based alliance with the BJP. I had several rounds of meetings with the then president of the BJP, Rajnath Singh. It’s only after we got an assurance on all fronts that we went ahead with the alliance. Over the past four years, the government has not given us even one reason to be upset. Our demands in the past have been accepted and I am sure in future too the government will listen.

After the JD(U) joined the NDA, there are more claimants for seats in Bihar. How many is the LJP expecting?

We have no particular figure in mind. I have always maintained numbers don’t matter, it’s ultimately about winnability. Compared with the 2014 election, things are going to be very different. I don’t think seat sharing will be an issue.

Once the elections are notified, it will be sorted out very amicably.

Recently, you said Tejashwi Yadav (RJD) and you are young leaders and can work together. What did you mean by the statement?

You can never say never in politics. It was a very hypothetical question. A TV journalist asked me whether for the good of Bihar, we will ever consider working with Tejashwi Yadav. I gave an equally hypothetical reply. Yes, in future, if needed, we can come together. Having said that, mine and my party’s stand is clear. We will not compromise on corruption. Lalu
ji
’s party has become synonymous with corruption.

At the same time, we can have similar demands. Now, Lalu
ji
’s party is demanding special status for Bihar. We too are demanding that. It doesn’t mean that we are in alliance.

Over the past four years, the Central government has not given us even one reason to be upset

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