"They (BJP) need to change mass perception in terms of minorities and Dalits. Aren't there secular leaders in BJP? There are people like Sushil Modi, Ram Kripal Yadav. What happens is that their voice gets suppressed and there are others whose voice gets attention," Mr Paswan said.
He appeared to hint at leaders like Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai and union minister Giriraj Singh who delivered provocative statements over the by-elections. Ahead of the polls, Mr Rai had said that if the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate won the election, Bihar's Araria would become a safe haven for the Pakistani spy agency ISI. Then, a day after the BJP's loss in the seat, Mr Singh stepped in to say the area would become a "hub of terrorism" drawing sharp criticism.
Mr Paswan said social arithmetic is known to be a solid poll plank in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and the reason behind the BJP's "shocking" defeat in the bypoll in its traditional stronghold of Gorakhpur.
"We ought to look carefully at how Congress remained in power in the country for so long, enjoying the support of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims without actually doing anything for them," Mr Paswan said.
"That the NDA works for the progress of all is a fact. This fact needs to be coupled with a bit of tact. Leaders ought to be more tactful and avoid blunders like speaking against reservations during assembly elections," he said.
Mr Paswan's suggestions came close on the heels of his son Chirag Paswan's advice that the BJP needs to take its allies more seriously in comments that could have been welcomed by its other partners but also provide ammo to opposition parties to attack the BJP.
(With inputs from PTI)
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