Daily at 6 a.m. Rameshwar Prasad Chaurasia, former BJP leader contesting the election on Lok Janshakti Party ticket from Sasaram Assembly constituency in Bihar, begins his campaign while taking a morning stroll in the town area.
The bachelor leader moves alone and takes his tea at road-side stalls with local shopkeepers, cart pullers and newspaper hawkers, all of whom readily recognise him. Around 8 a.m., he wraps up his programme and a few people come with him to a dingy hotel opposite Sasaram railway junction before he sets off on the days schedule. During day, he visits villages in an SUV and at night he holds meetings with his supporters to get the feedback on the poll situation.
This has been my routine for quite some&I get my morning tea and lunch offered by local people...am not a new face to them, Mr. Chaurasia, who has been in the BJP for the last 30 years and a four-time party MLA from neighbouring Nokha Assembly constituency, told The Hindu in his second floor hotel room late on Friday.
Despite being assured by the top party leadership, he was denied ticket this time and got an offer from the LJP in two minutes, he said. When the news reached the BJP leadership that he had joined the LJP and was going to contest on that party ticket, the same BJP leaders started calling him up and later, after having a discussion with them, he returned the LJP ticket.
But, when this news was flashed in media, my friends, well-wishers and supporters put immense pressure on me to contest the election&I succumbed to their requests and pressure and jumped into the poll arena, finally on LJP ticket, he said while watching the news on a small TV set in his hotel room. Im thankful to LJP president Chirag Paswan for having patience with my reconsideration in quick succession, he added.
Mr. Chaurasias close proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also known to all in the State BJP. At a time when most of the State BJP party leaders led by Sushil Kumar Modi were calling Nitish Kumar PM material before 2014, Mr. Chaurasia was in Gujarat rooting for Mr. Narendra Modi for the coveted position. Later, he was even made in-charge of the Delhi State unit and also appointed co-incharge of the party in Uttar Pradesh.
Over a cup of tea, Mr. Chaurasia spoke to The Hindu at length on several issues related to the current Assembly election and the popular perception that its more a contest between the BJP and the JD(U) rather than the NDA and the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar poll. He said he was even offered party ticket by the RJD which he politely declined.
Excerpts from the interview:
Absolutely not. Im contesting on the Lok Janshakti Party ticket and contesting the poll to defeat the sitting JD(U) candidate Ashok Kumar. (Ashok Kumar won the last 2015 Assembly poll on RJD ticket).
Yes. But were expelled by the State BJP president who himself was earlier expelled from the party and had joined the RJD to come back to the BJP again. Our expulsion was totally against the party constitution.
Any chance of returning to the BJP after the election (irrespective of winning or losing it)?
For the last 30 years, Ive been a BJP worker. I won Assembly elections four times on party ticket&the BJP is like my mother and how can one betray his mother in his life time. But, I cannot cheat LJP chief Chirag Paswan as well on whose party symbol Im contesting the poll. Moreover, where is the difference between the BJP and the LJP? You yourself can see all local BJP workers here are campaigning for me despite repeated warnings by some State BJP leaders.
BJP-LJP will form the government. The RJD will come at number 2 position, in terms of winning seats. Do you see any JD(U) workers here or anywhere else?
Anyone, but not Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi.
Yes, not in Bihar but at the Centre BJP-LJP are very much together and in solid alliance. The top leadership of both the parties, I know, is in regular touch with each other.
Why not? It may happen, but Im not aware of any such plan-B of the BJP.
(A long pause) what can I say on this?&all will depend on what situation emerges after the poll.