After Coup, Chirag Paswan At Uncle’s Doorstep, Returns After Long Wait
A day after five of six Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MPs broke away in a stunning coup led by his uncle, Chirag Paswan’s attempts at reconciliation were roundly snubbed.
Five rebel MPs have voted to replace Chirag Paswan, the son of party founder Ram Vilas Paswan who died last year, and today elected his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras as their leader instead. This leaves Chirag Paswan isolated and alone in the party he heads. Including him, there are six LJP MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Pashupati Kumar Paras, the younger brother of Ram Vilas Paswan, refused to meet his nephew in Delhi this afternoon and made it clear that he represents the real LJP now.
Chirag Paswan drove to his uncle’s house but stayed in his car for an hour and 45 minutes as Mr Paras did not invite him in. His cousin Prince Raj also stays there, but he did not come out either.
Reports say Chirag Paswan had gone with a compromise formula – he makes way for his mother to become party chief. There is no word from the rebels on whether they will accept it.
“There are six MPs in our party. It was the desire of five MPs to save our party. So I have not split the party, I have saved it. Chirag Paswan is my nephew as well as party’s national president. I have no objections to him,” Mr Paras said this morning.
“I am with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Nitish Kumar is a good leader and Vikas Purush (development man),” he added.
Mr Paras, a first-time MP from Hajipur, had been in touch with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for months. He was reportedly offered a spot in the Union Cabinet by the NDA, and that clinched it.
Nitish Kumar, sources say, worked on every LJP MP and was helped by a party leader related to the Paswans – Maheshwar Hazari – and his close lieutenant Lalan Singh. The rebels, including Chirag Paswan’s cousin Prince Raj, Chandan Singh, Veena Devi and Mehboob Ali Kaiser, may support the Chief Minister’s Janata Dal United (JDU) in the coming days.
JDU leaders were present at their meeting today.
The Chief Minister played a significant role in the LJP coup, said JDU leaders who pointed at Chirag Paswan’s antagonism towards Nitish Kumar last year during the Bihar election.
“It is well-known that as you sow, so you reap. Chirag Paswan was heading a party which was with the NDA. Yet, he adopted a stance that damaged it in the assembly polls. This led to a sense of unease within his own party,” JDU national president RCP Singh told reporters.
The LJP was a part of the NDA in Bihar, which includes the BJP and JDU, until last year when Chirag Paswan announced a solo contest for the state election. Chirag Paswan’s decision to field his own candidates had the worst impact on Mr Kumar, whose JDU finished third in the Bihar polls, after the BJP and the opposition RJD. Mr Kumar returned as Chief Minister but with a hugely diminished status in the coalition.
The LJP’s meltdown was, in fact, set in motion barely four days after Ram Vilas Paswan’s death on October 8, when Chirag threatened to expel his uncle over a statement and reportedly declared: “You are not my blood.”
Mr Paras was reported to have replied: “Your uncle is dead to you from now.”
LJP insiders alleged that this was a crisis waiting to happen, mainly because of Chirag Paswan’s perceived arrogance. “He never bothered to keep his promise of touring the state and interacting with the party workers after the assembly elections,” sources said.
Even when the LJP’s only MLA joined Mr Kumar’s party, Chirag Paswan refused to see the warning signs and didn’t take reports of possible defections from his parliamentary party seriously, the sources say, adding that his “overconfidence and aloofness” cost him.