After the exit of the TDP from the NDA and the ongoing squabbles with the Shiv Sena and JD(U), the BJP is staring at trouble from another one of its allies as the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has given it an ultimatum over matters related to the alleged 'dilution' of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act that had led to a bandh call and ensuing widespread 'Bharat Bandh' protests, chaos and mayhem on April 2.
The specific issue has to do with the Modi government's decision to appoint retired Supreme Court judge AK Goel, who was one of members of the two-judge bench that 'diluted' the act, as the head of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Speaking on the matter, LJP leader Chirag Paswan, who is the son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, sought the removal of the AK Goel as NGT chairman by August 9 and when asked whether his party could walk out of the alliance if the demand isn't met, said, 'We'll cross that bridge when it comes'.
Paswan added that the LJP's support to the BJP was issue-based and the patience of a number of leaders in the party was wearing thin as numerous circumstances of concern relating to Dalits have emerged of late. He said that protecting the interests of these communities was the root of the party's tie-up with the BJP in 2014 and reiterated the demand for the government to bring in an ordinance to restore the original provisions of the act.
The younger Paswan, did, however, state that he and his party have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the government had done a lot for Dalits.
The 'dilution' has to do with the March 20 judgment of the apex court that had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the SC/ST Protection Act while directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
The LJP had won six seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections which it had contested in alliance with the BJP. Ram Vilas Paswan was handed the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution portfolios. In the recent no-confidence motion debate and vote, he spoke against the motion of no confidence against the Modi government.