Hotspot: Paswan’s betrayal
Ram Vilas Paswan’s announcement this week of his party’s turnaround took Muslims and all secular Indians by surprise. If there was one Indian politician whose secular credentials could not be challenged, it was Ram Vilas Paswan. So it seemed until Thursday when he exchanged sweets with BJP’s Rajnath Singh and formally announced a return of his Lok Janshakti Party to the NDA fold.
His principled stand of not having anything to do with a party with Muslim blood on its hands went out the window just for a few seats in Parliament. It is highly unlikely Paswan’s party will win any of the seven seats the BJP allowed the LJP to contest. BJP supporters are in fact peeved at their party virtually surrendering those seats to Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United or Congress as they think Paswan is going to lose all of them any way. But the BJP’s media brigade should be thankful to Paswan for ending their leader Narendra Modi’s ostracism by political parties. It also makes the Obama administration’s outreach to the pariah Gujarat leader that much easier.
But Muslims should give the devil his due. At least Paswan announced his alliance with the BJP before the elections, not after his candidates won Muslim votes. So the community cannot say it was duped as was the case when Mayawati in neighboring Uttar Pradesh struck a post-election power-sharing agreement with the BJP in 1997 after garnering Muslim votes.
There will be many such surprises and reworking of alliances in the days ahead in the name of realpolitik. Many a party is sitting on the fence, waiting for the election outcome. Muslims need to be wary of such parties and politicians and stay away from them. Admittedly it is a difficult task and not every eligible voter can be expected to understand the political math involved. But try they must if Muslims in India are not to be taken in by any party that promises to just keep the peace.
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