Patna: Contrary to what the mainstream media has to say, it isn't only Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumra’s JD-U trying to split the LJP and removing Chirag Paswan as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, but also the BJP, which has been scheming behind the scenes. Five of six LJP MPs formally revolted against Chirag on Sunday only after a green signal from the BJP on Saturday .
Chirag is the son of LJP founder and former Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who died last year. His son was made de facto chief of the party. Unlike the elder Paswan, who was known for his knack of managing and striking up relationships, Chirag has proved to be a novice and failed to sense the JD-U and BJP moving to split his party, political watchers say.
This political development has come ahead of a likely expansion of the Union Cabinet. Chirag’s name had been doing the rounds for an induction as a reward by the BJP for damaging the JD-U's prospects in the polls, thus helping it to emerge as a party bigger than its ally .
According to sources in the LJP camp close to Chirag, the ground for a split was prepared with the help of both the ruling parties. Five LJP MPs, including Pashupati Kumar Paras, were in Bihar till Saturday. They rushed to Delhi on Sunday following a go-ahead from the BJP.
“A senior JD-U leader considered close to Nitish Kumar was present in the secret meeting of five LJP MPs held in Delhi where they elected Paras as the new leader of the parliamentary party. Following that they got an appointment with Speaker of the Lok Sabha, who met them. They handed over a letter in this regard. A senior BJP leader, who was in-charge of the party in Bihar once and considered close to Home Minister Amit Shah, was present at the Speaker's official residence. All this shows how the JD-U and BJP managed a split in the LJP,” an LJP leader said here on Monday.
Interestingly Paras denied reports of meeting JD-U leaders on Sunday.
Another party leader, considered to be a Chirag loyalist, said the LJP president never expected the BJP to play a "dirty game" to split the party. "Chirag was aware of likely revenge from the JD-U for his decision to contest polls against it. But reports suggest that some powerful BJP leaders were in touch with five rebel LJP MPs, who were given time to meet the Speaker – despite it being a Sunday – and informed him about their decision to replace Chirag with Paras as the new leader of the Parliamentary party. The BJP used him against Nitish and now worked against him,” he added.
According to reports, Chirag’s younger uncle Paras, and his cousin Prince Raj – both party MPs – had been unhappy with him for the last few months. The other three party MPs were not best pleased either. It was said that this was down to Chirag calling the shots without consulting any one. Paras, the MP from Hajipur, the traditional seat of his elder brother and LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan, expressed different views which were ignored.
Similarly Prince Raj, son of Ramchandra Paswan, the second brother of Ram Vilas, was miffed after Chirag weakened his position in the party by appointing a working president of the LJP despite the fact that he was president of the party in the state.
BJP state spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel said what happened was the result of Chirag’s decisions taken during the assembly polls last year. "Chirag is responsible for the split as party’s MPs were unhappy with his decisions," he said. JD-U president R.C.P Singh said Chirag had it coming as had been working against the collective views of senior party leaders.
However, after party MPs revolted against him, Chirag tried to meet his uncle Paras in an attempt to defuse the situation. His proposal was that his mother be made LJP president and that he would resign, but Paras refused to meet him.
Political observers recalled the events of last year when the LJP claimed that it has an ideological tussle with the JD-U, not with the BJP. Later, when Chirag refused to contest the polls under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, who was also the chief ministerial candidate of the NDA, it was a clear sign that he would damage JD-U's prospects in the polls.
The LJP fielded candidates against the JD-U but not against the BJP. Chirag had made it clear repeatedly that his party would remain with the NDA and had no problems with the BJP, even going as far as to say that it wanted a BJP-led government in Bihar. He had stressed that all LJP candidates who win the polls will support the BJP. It was a different matter that only one LJP candidate won and later joined the JD-U.
Known as a young and aggressive leader, Chirag had employed another strategy to defeat the JD-U. He fielded more than half a dozen BJP leaders, including a sitting MLA and former MLAs. They had been denied tickets by the party as their seats went to JD-U under the seat-sharing deal. Chirag had handed over party symbols to Rajendra Singh, a known RSS man and BJP state vice president, and former BJP MLAs Usha Vidhayarti and Rameshwar Chourasia. All of them were defeated, however.
With political change in the air, the opposition RJD has offered Chirag the chance to join hands with Tejashwi Yadav against the ruling NDA in Bihar.