Campaign Trail | Lok Sabha Election 2019

Almost smooth sailing on the road with LJP's Chirag Paswan

Lending his ears: LJP leader Chirag Paswan interacting with voters in Jamui.

Lending his ears: LJP leader Chirag Paswan interacting with voters in Jamui.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

I have been around the people of my constituency, so I do not need to knock on every door right now, says Lok Janshakti Party scion

It’s almost noon, the heat is rising and so is the pace of the Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) election campaign, urging voters to choose the party’s “bangla chaap” election symbol, the message blaring from speakers placed atop a bedecked Toyota Fortuner piled with marigold garlands.

Party supporters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with LJP scion Chirag Paswan’s photograph with the slogan “Dil se Chirag, phir se Chirag” grow restless. Mr. Chirag is LJP founder and president Ramvilas Paswan’s son.

On the fifth floor of Hotel GenX, a freshly minted hotel that opened six months ago, the room to his door is closed. Outside, the narrow, dark corridor is packed with a gaggle of his supporters.

Mr. Chirag Paswan leaves the hotel past 2 p.m. He jumps into the front seat of the Fortuner, his close associate Saurabh Pandey sits at the back along with a security staff. A vehicle of security personnel leads the cavalcade of six SUVs as they zip around Jamui in Bihar, standing out like a sore thumb on a two-lane road.

Presence felt

At the first couple of stops, Mr. Paswan climbs down from his car, forges into the crowd with his smile intact, does not say much, obliges every selfie request, peering into the phone cameras of his supporters, and accepts the marigold garlands thrown at his neck. Before climbing back in, he throws the marigold garlands on to his car’s deck, adding to an ever-growing pile there.

Back in the car, he says that he has ensured his presence has been felt in the constituency in the last five years. He counts a Kendriya Vidyalaya, a medical college (both at the drawing board stage), and a host of railway projects, among his achievements.

“I have been around the people of my constituency all through the five years so I do not need to knock on every door right now,” he said.

When told of conversations of discontentment among voters, he concedes that it is difficult to reach each of the 2,100 villages in his constituency spread across three districts. His opponent is Rashtriya Lok Samata Party’s (RLSP) Bhudev Chaudhary, whom Mr. Paswan defeated in 2014.

Vestiges of his one-movie film career remain. His lone film, Mile Na Mile Hum, co-starring Kangana Ranaut, released in 2010. The film bombed and three years later, well in time for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he was back in Bihar to take over the reins of the LJP from his father.

Do people still remember his film? “There was a very famous song from my movie called Katto gilhari, written by Javed sahab [lyricist Javed Akhtar] that happens to be popular song in U.P. and Bihar. So when I go out, at times, they sing the song, the youngsters tell me that I look good and I must make another movie, but politics is a full-time job,” he says.

Changing gears

As the roadshow gathers speed, the campaigning changes gears. Within the moving vehicle, he opens the door, and with one foot inside the car and the other on the landing step, he waves out to supporters. Almost on cue, two security guards also jump in beside him, three of them dangling in unison from the vehicle.

In between the waving and smiling, Mr. Paswan and his associate Mr. Pandey, have serious matters at hand. They exchange notes on possible “internal sabotage.”

The roadshow also takes an discomfiting turn when the cavalcade is rudely stopped by a group of women. They have blocked the road, lining up empty buckets and pots at the Lakshmipur market.

The lone municipal tap that serves close to 50 families here has not had a drop of water for over a month. The women are angry.

‘Won’t vote’

Nahi denge vote, ja (‘We won’t give the vote, get lost’),” they shout. Mr. Paswan initially clueless, gets down from his car to do the usual meet and greet routine, and cajoles the women to remove the blockade. For a moment, the protest is forgotten, and children and women stand on their toes to peek at him. But fearing worse, Mr. Chirag Paswan beats a hasty retreat.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:27:31 AM |

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