Voicing confidence about a favourable poll verdict, Lok Janshakti Party supremo Ramvilas Paswan on Thursday said he would play the role of a 'mahout' and not that of a 'super CM' in case the Rashtriya Janata Dal-LJP combine is voted to power in Bihar.
Paswan also ruled out the possibility of jumping the fence and aligning with the Congress in a post-poll situation while making it clear that he was not averse to RJD chief Lalu Prasad being projected as the chief ministerial candidate.
"This time, it is an interesting battle which will burst the bubble of the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar, who stands isolated with cracks in ruling alliance. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-United are grappling with infighting following glaring differences over issues ranging from who will not campaign and revolt after distribution of tickets," Paswan told PTI.
He was apparently referring to the recent resignation of state BJP president Dr C P Thakur and rebel NDA MPs fielding their kin on tickets from Congress and other parties.
Bracing up for the big fight, Paswan claimed it was he who brought Prasad down from power in 2005.
The October 2005 elections saw the RJD emerge as the largest opposition party following major reverses, largely due to the split in the anti-Lalu votes which also went to the LJP and independents.
"I have already realised the mistakes I committed that led to installation of the NDA represented by communal and fascist forces...It dealt a blow not only to the RJD but also to the LJP," he said, adding people had also not benefited after the power slipped into the hands of 'an arrogant' person like Nitish Kumar.
"Now I am taking all steps with full precaution to ensure the victory of the alliance," he said.
On the credibility of his alliance partner and RJD chief, Paswan said, "Lalu has taken a lesson from past and he is a reformed person now."
Unfazed by the desertion of sitting MLAs and several senior leaders, Paswan said he would emerge as the `king maker' and refused to acknowledge erosion in his party's Dalit vote base, saying the 'Mahadalit' card played by Nitish Kumar has been exposed as the Dalits have realised the 'big fraud' played by the chief minister.
Paswan alleged Congress has no base in Bihar and it is in the fray as a 'vote katua' (vote clipper) only to damage the cause of the ruling JD-U and BJP.
The RJD-LJP alliance was the only combination in Bihar which has base votes intact, he said.
Rubbishing the speculation that he could jump the fence and join forces with the Congress, the former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP said he was Union Minister not at someone's mercy.
"Moreover, I am not going to take any decision at the cost of the alliance," he said.
He stuck to his stand on making a Muslim deputy chief minister and said projection of his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras to the post was done keeping in mind his vast legislative and administrative experience.
"Now we have decided that apart from Paras, there will a deputy CM representing the minorities with powerful say in the next government," he said.
Choosing to play the role of 'mahout' instead of that of a 'super CM' in the event of a win, Paswan said, "I will be the `mahout' to put a check on the new government."
"Nitish will meet the same fate as that of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu who had launched the Andhra shining campaign," Paswan claimed.
On whether he was satisfied with the steps taken by the Election Commission for ensuring fair and free polls, Paswan said the commission should ensure that the EVMs are not tampered with.
Image: File picture of Ram Vilas Paswan talking to Lalu Prasad Yadav during an election campaign rally in Bihar