New Delhi: With assembly elections in Bihar
approaching, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan has reached out to
Muslims saying he will favour a deputy Chief Minister from the
community if the combine of his party and RJD comes to power
in the state.
"We would like to see a Muslim Deputy Chief Minister in
the state if our alliance comes to power. I have discussed the
issue with RJD chief Lalu Prasad," Paswan said.
Overcoming last-minute hiccups, RJD and LJP had clinched
the alliance on August 16 under which which they will contest
in 168 and 75 seats respectively.
Lalu Prasad was declared the chief ministerial candidate
of the alliance while LJP Bihar unit chief Pashupati Kumar
Paras, younger brother of Paswan, was announced as a deputy
Chief Minister aspirant.
Asked whether his new demand means Paras will no longer
be the deputy chief ministerial candidate of the alliance,
Paswan replied in negative saying there can be two deputy
chief ministers and there are many precedents in this regard.
After the February 2005 assembly elections, Paswan had
insisted on a Muslim chief minister and as no consensus could
be reached on the issue among other parties, the state had to
face yet another election in October 2005 in which NDA emerged
Paswan, however, said there is no differences on the
issue of Muslim deputy chief minister this time.
"We will accept any Muslim candidate for the job, whoever
the community leaders select," Paswan said.
Sources say that as under the existing alliance
arrangement, the Chief Minister is from RJD and one deputy
chief minister is from RJD, there is a feeling in both parties
that an independent Muslim candidate can be projected as
another deputy chief ministerial candidate.
Paswan also said both RJD and LJP will fight the election
under a joint manifesto, which will have a "time-bound
programme for the development of Muslims".
"Muslim community leaders will be asked to give us a
comprehensive plan for the community`s development, which will
be incorporated in our manifesto," Paswan said.
Sources in the alliance said they are confident that a
large section of the around 16 per cent Muslim voters will
support it. They are confident of getting large chunk of Other
Backward Caste (OBC) and Dalit votes too.
"JD-U being in alliance with BJP will not be able to
fetch considerable Muslims votes whereas Congress has recently
joined hands with BJP on many issues, which have not gone down
well with Muslims. Moreover, Congress is seen more as a
spolier of votes in the states rather than being in a position
to win elections," a senior LJP leader said.