Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan says the NDA does not want the Pulwama attack and subsequent developments to become an election issue but “it cannot be ignored” as he made it clear that the government “is as serious as the people of the country” after the terror attack.
While not going into the specifics of what the government may do to retailiate against the Pakistan-sponsored operation in Pulwama, he acknowledges that there are expectations from the government to “act”.
In an interview to IANS, Paswan said he feels the much-talked about Grand Alliance of Opposition parties is a non-starter due to contradictions among the parties and will in no way affect the chances of NDA returning to power, says Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Paswan.
He also rules out his dumping the NDA in case of a hung verdict in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
“We have done a lot of development work. We don’t need to make it an election issue. But the Pulwama incident cannot be ignored. The entire world is speaking now. US President Donald Trump has reacted. France has said it will take the initiative to get the Pulwama attack by Jaishe-e-Mohammed condemned in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
“We don’t want to make it a political or election issue. Every political party has come forward and has shown unity in national interest. What government will do I can’t say. But the government has taken it seriously. The government has taken it as seriously as the people have taken it,” he said on the Pulwama terror attack and the demands being made to avenge the terror sponsored from across the border.
Paswan said the people were outraged and the Prime Minister has clearly said that “every drop of soldier’s blood will be avenged”.
“Their sacrifices will not go in vain,” he said, adding people and parties should believe in what the Prime Minister has said.
Dismissing the possibility of the grand alliance being a threat to the NDA returning to power, he said the ruling coalition will get more number of MPs than now and Narendra Modi will again be the Prime Minister.
“I do not think there will be a pre-poll alliance (among Opposition parties). The NDA will be the biggest gainer and it will form the government as President will invite the majority pre-poll group.
“Do you think Mamata Banerjee will go along with Congress and the Left in Bengal? Will SP-BSP go with Congress in Uttar Pradesh? The situation is similar everywhere. There will not be any grand-alliance,” he said.
Asked about the description of the grand alliance as ‘mahamilavat’ (highly adulterated) by the Prime Minister and the BJP too striking deals with other parties in states, Paswan said there was nothing wrong with that.
“We are pure. There is no adulteration. They (Opposition) are adulterated. As Prime Minister says it is ‘mahamilavat’ (highly adulterated). In Opposition, all are tainted. Lalu Prasad is tainted, Mayawati is tainted, Akhilesh is tainted. Mamata Banerjee’s party is in Saradha scam,” he said.
The Union Minister also felt that the Congress contesting alone in Uttar Pradesh would cut into the votes of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which would benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“The SP-BSP alliance is not going to continue because the man who built the SP, Mulayam Singh Yadav, is against it,” Paswan said and recalled Yadav’s praise in the Lok Sabha and his wish to see Modi return to power.
Asked about challenges being posed by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led grand alliance in Bihar, Paswan said that it will have no impact on the NDA.
“We are in solid position in Bihar whereas in the Opposition camp, there is uncertainty over distribution of seats. If someone gets lesser seats than expected, it will come out of the grand alliance. The Congress cannot go with the RJD. There is no question of if and but. We will win Bihar and Uttar Pradesh too despite opposition alliance,” he said.
To a query about what will be his party’s strategy in case of a hung verdict and NDA not being in a position to form the government, Paswan said, “We are with the NDA and will remain with the NDA.”
Talking about why the NDA will come back to power, the Minister said that the tax sops for those with annual income of Rs 5 lakh and schemes like the Ayushman Bharat health scheme, housing scheme for poor and toilet, electricity and gas in all the poor homes would vouch for the government’s performance.
The decision to provide 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections would also remove the anger among the upper castes while issues like demonetisation and rural distress have faded into the background.