NDF names Ram Vilas Paswan as PM candidate

New Delhi, Feb 18 : The National Dalit Front on Wednesday named its president Ram Vilas Paswan as the prime ministerial candidate of the political grouping.

Announcing this at a press conference here, Front's general secretary Udit Raj said that "politics needs to be redefined" as the time has come to "give a touch to social issues".

"So far in politics, emphasis has been given to political and economical issues. But now the focus should be social issues and politics needs to be redefined. Therefore, Paswan is our candidate for prime ministership," he said.

The NDF comprises three Dalit political parties which include Indian Justice Party led by Raj, Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and Ram Das Athwale's Republican Party of India.

Raj said in the upcoming general elections, NDF would contest 350 seats across the country and the "sharing of seats would be on the basis of the party's strength at the place".

Terming Barack Obama ascent to the US President seat as a major boost to Dalit politics in India, he said: "Now, Dalits in India have strong feeling that a Dalit should become the Prime Minister."

The NDF general secretary charged that the Reservation Bill, 2008, which was recently passed in Rajya Sabha, has many "deficiencies". "The Section 4 of the Bill must be deleted as it bars Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates to get promotion and recruitment in higher level. Besides, there is no mention of the punishment for those who violates the rule for implementation of reservation," Raj said.

Dalit leaders and intellectuals had recently demanded that the clause, which rules out job quota in 47 "institutions of national importance" such as IITs and IIMs, be dropped.

"The Bill should only be passed when amendments are incorporated," he said.

Replying to a query about Mayawati's announcement of her ambition to become the Prime Minister, he said, "Paswan is more competent. He is more fit at the national level".