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LJP implodes with five of the six MPs elbowing out Chirag Paswan

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan arrives to meet party leader Pashupati Kumar Paras at his house, in New Delhi on June 14, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Less than a year after the death of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan, his party is on the verge of a split, with five of its six Lok Sabha members replacing party president Chirag Paswan with his uncle, Pashupati Nath Paras, as the leader of the Parliamentary Party.

Also read: Chirag Paswan has reaped what he had sown: JD(U) president Singh

The revolt coincides with a widely expected Cabinet reshuffle. For months, Mr. Paswan had pinned hopes of filling the vacancy that arose on the death of his father. The rebellion clearly shows that Mr. Paras too nurses the same hope.

Mr. Paras has been supported by Mr. Paswan’s cousin Prince Raj (Samastipur), Mehboob Ali Kaiser (Khagaria), Veena Devi (Vaishali) and Chandan Singh (Nawada). All five MPs met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Sunday evening, submitting a memorandum electing Mr. Paras as their Parliamentary Party leader.

Fails to meet uncle

Mr. Paswan came to know of the revolt late on Sunday night. On Monday morning, he rushed to meet his uncle. He was stopped at the gate for nearly 25 minutes and when he finally managed to enter his uncle’s residence, he was told that Mr. Paras was not at home.

Also read: Lone LJP MLA joins ruling JD(U) in Bihar

The rebel MPs had an hour-long meeting with JD(U) leader Lallan Singh at party MP Veena Singh’s residence.

Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Mr. Paras said he had no complaints against his nephew and that he weas only trying to rescue the party. He also, in the same breath, praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, calling him ‘vikas purush’, indicating that the party will not follow the line set by his nephew, though he made it clear that the MPs would not join the JD (U). Mr Paras had served as a minister in Mr. Kumar’s Cabinet.

What is particularly damaging for Mr. Paswan is that the rebel MPs includes his cousin Mr. Raj, who is said to be very close to him and whom he had anointed as the Bihar unit chief, replacing Mr. Paras. Mr. Raj is the son of Ram Vilas Paswan’s younger brother Ramchandra Paswan, who died in 2019. Ram Vilas Paswan never recovered from the shock of his brother’s death and in some way that accelerated the deterioration of his own health, leading to his death a year later.

Also read: Bihar Assembly Elections | No kingmaker, but LJP dented JD(U)

Seven-month long discontent

The Sunday evening events are the culmination of a nearly seven-month long discontent in the party against Mr. Paswan for his particularly twisted political stand. He launched a campaign targeting the JD(U) and Mr. Kumar without severing ties with the NDA. He continued to sing paeans about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The LJP won one Assembly seat, managed to garner nearly 6 per cent vote share and cost the JD(U) nearly 35-40 seats.

Within the party forum, many leaders, including Mr. Paras and Mr. Kaiser, had criticised Mr. Paswan. Mr. Paras had also made a public statement praising Mr. Kumar, but had to retract it under pressure from his nephew. The list of grievances against Mr. Paswan also includes, his aide - Saurav Pandey- who Mr. Paras and other rebelling MPs have accused of excessive interference and arrogance.

‘Fallout of State polls’

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Kaiser, observed, “The Sunday events are a fallout of the Bihar elections. We advised him not to go against Nitish Kumar. A leader has to listen to people, but Chirag was impervious to any of our suggestions.” The rebel group did not hold any grudge against Mr. Paswan, who should relent to work under Mr. Paras. “He can work a couple of years under Mr. Paras till he learns the ropes and is amenable to listening to sound advice,” Mr. Kaiser added.

Mr. Chirag Paswan’s aides claimed that the entire rebellion was orchestrated by the JD(U) , who are smarting from their loss of nearly 35-40 seats caused by Mr. Paswan’s campaign against Mr. Kumar. Recently, at a virtual meeting of the NDA constituents, Mr. Paswan, had excused himself, citing ill-health. Sources said he was asked to do so by the BJP after the JD(U) made it clear that they would not tolerate his presence.

The LJP rebellion is likely to strengthen the JD(U)’s parliamentary position. Out of the 40 MPs from the State, the JD(U) has 16 and the BJP 17.

For now, Mr. Paswan has maintained a studied silence. “As of today, Chirag Paswan is the president of LJP,” Abdul Khaliq, secretary general of the LJP said. Mr. Paras too has not staked claim to control the party outside of Parliament. Mr. Paswan is hoping that he can placate the rebels by leaving the president’s post to his mother, Reena Paswan, though that would only bring in a temporary truce.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 12:13:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ljp-mps-join-hands-at-chirag-paswan/article34808748.ece

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