Ram Vilas Paswan
BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan claimed on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces no real challenge in his bid to retain to power in 2019, making light of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's assertion that opposition parties would unite to take on the ruling NDA in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union minister mocked opposition parties, saying they should start concentrating on the parliamentary polls in 2024.
Speaking at an event in London, Gandhi had said that the next election would be pretty straightforward as the BJP would on one side and every opposition party on the other.
Paswan was speaking to reporters at a function to commemorate the birth anniversary of B P Mandal, whose report as the head of a committee -- better known as Mandal Commission -- had paved the way for reservation for the Other Backward Communities. He was born this day in 1918.
The Dalit leader also used the occasion to attack leaders claiming to be "messiah" for the OBCs, saying the community has only two messiahs and one was Mandal and another was former prime minister V P Singh, who decided to implement his report.
Singh risked his political career and decided to swim against the tide when he announced that his government would implement the report, he said, describing it as a very brave decision.
Attacking the Congress, he said governments led by the party sat on the report, which was submitted in 1980, and took no action.
The Modi government had empowered the OBCs with its decision to accord constitutional status on a commission looking after its interests, he said.
He also welcomed a Delhi High Court verdict convicting the accused in the Mirchpur violence case in which the victims were Dalits.