Patna, Feb. 2: Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president and Bihar's lone Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan, once the most powerful in the state's triumvirate ' comprising Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Paswan himself ' is going virtually unnoticed on his ongoing Bihar Bachao Yatra.
The lone claimant to the Dalit votebank that constitutes over 22 per cent of the state's electorate, Paswan till February, 2005 was rated as the leader of the "largest chunk", always in the position to tilt the power balance in the favour of the one he supported or joined hands in alliance.
More than Nitish Kumar-led NDA, it was Paswan who played a key role in dislodging the 15-year-old Lalu-Rabri regime in 2005. In February 2005, the Paswan's LJP ' hell-bent to drive the regime out of power ' won 29 Assembly seats against Lalu Prasad-led RJD's 75.
The Congress, Left parties and some other parties supportive of Lalu together won around 20 seats. But the LJP refused to support the regime in 2005.
The BJP-JD(U) combine had won only 92 seats, far away from the magic number of 122 in the House.
The truncated House was dissolved, leading to the imposition of President's Rule and re-election in November 2005, in which the NDA came to power with 143 seats, a comfortable majority.
"Had Paswan supported Lalu in February, 2005, the scenario would have been completely different. The Lalu-Rabri regime would have staged a fourth comeback to power to last till 2010. And who knows...Nitish Kumar might not have emerged as the leader that he is today," said Vijay Krishna, RJD's chief spokesperson and former MP.
The remark of Krishna ' a senior politico also known for his political analysis ' is quite relevant as the LJP forged alliance with RJD in 2009 and continuing in company with Lalu.
Paswan has been pulling no stops to ensure the dislodging of the Nitish-led NDA regime now.
While Lalu has been on the Parivartan Yatra in the state, his newfound friend, Paswan embarked on Bihar Bachao Yatra on January 5, fanning out in Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Banka, Jamui, Khagaria and Jehanabad districts.
He visited Gaya, Aurangabad and Arwal districts from January 24 and the first phase of his yatra on January 31.
The second phase is scheduled to begin from February 9.
Paswan's show has so far been "lacklustre", going unnoticed. "People are yet to figure out why Paswan who doggedly opposed the Lalu-Rabri regime forged alliance with the same Lalu soon after the latter was dislodged from power," said a JD(U) leader.