NEW DELHI (TIP): NDA partner and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday spoke out on the Bihar election defeat for the first time since the verdict, saying the rival grand alliance benefitted from successfully convincing people that reservation for backwards would be withdrawn and minorities won’t be safe if the NDA came to office.
Even though Paswan refrained from directly blaming RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, he agreed that the quota remark and the Dadri incident were the two major reasons for votes moving away from NDA parties.
Besides the two controversial issues, the decision of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to shift a number of castes from OBCs to EBCs and from EBCs to SCs/STs also led to consolidation of votes in favour of the grand alliance, the LJP chief said at a press conference.
Replying to a question on Bhagwat’s remarks on quota review, Paswan said, “I do not think that this was the only issue. But this is true that the grand alliance leaders were to a large extent successful in misleading people with the help of that statement. That became a major issue. They were able to convince people that if NDA comes to power, reservation will be done away with.”
He added, “We were not successful in convincing voters from SCs and OBCs that it is not so, though all of us including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah clearly said that there was no plan to undo reservation system.”
He hastened to add that he was not in a position to say in what context Bhagwat had made the remarks or whether he was saying this in response to Hardik Patel’s stir for reservation for Patels in Gujarat.
Besides, he spoke about the discomfiture in NDA over the lynching in Dadri on the beef issue and subsequent row. “The incident of Dadri was a law and order problem and the blame for it should have gone to Samajwadi Party, which rules Uttar Pradesh. It should have been treated as an issue concerning Mulayam Singh Yadav. Latching on to this incident, the opposition was also successful in convincing minorities in Bihar that they will not be safe if NDA came to power,” Paswan said.