Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan will not contest next month's national election but will take the Rajya Sabha route to parliament, his brother said today. Pashupati Paras, a minister in the Bihar government, also said the decision was taken last year.
"Ram Vilas Paswan will not contest the election. This was decided two months ago," Pashupati Paras told NDTV.
Ram Vilas Paswan, 72, is the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party, which is a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"Paswanji will be elected to the Rajya Sabha with the help of the NDA," said Pashupati Paras.
Ram Vilas Paswan is the Lok Sabha parliamentarian from Hajipur. In 1977, he won from the seat with a record margin of 4.24 lakh votes. Since then, Hajipur has been Ram Vilas Paswan's stronghold for three decades.
In January, the minister indicated that he would not contest from the seat but would always nurture it. His party suggested then that he was unwell, and would go the Rajya Sabha way.
Ram Vilas Paswan's exit from the Bihar Lok Sabha race was essential for the BJP to seal its seat-sharing deal with allies in the 40-seat state.
In exchange for a Rajya Sabha berth, Ram Vilas Paswan agreed to cede one seat to the BJP from his share. And that is how both the BJP and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United get to contest 18 seats each in Bihar, leaving four for Mr Paswan's party.
Upendra Kushwaha had already walked out (he would have been given two seats), and everything fell into place.
After Upendra Kushwaha's exit in December, in the middle of tough seat negotiations, the BJP told Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan that their party could have six - not four - seats to contest. The Rajya Sabha offer was missing, which upset father-son duo.