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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

LJP MPs revolt against Chirag Paswan; uncle Pashupati Paras elected leader

The rebel MPs also posed their confidence in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, against whom Chirag had led a massive campaign during the election, lending their weight to him in Bihar signalling that they are keen to get back to normalcy.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: June 14, 2021 6:20:42 pm
ljp, chirag paswan, lok janshakti party, ljp leaders quit, bihar news, indian expressChirag Paswan (Express file photo by Praveen Khanna)

Months after having muddled the NDA’s political message in Bihar assembly elections, the Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party imploded from within, with his five Lok Sabha MPs ousting him as the floor leader in their parliamentary unit. Chirag, son of late Bihar veteran Ram Vilas Paswan, who took lead in confusing the NDA campaign in the run-up to the assembly election is now scrambling to contain the situation by making attempts to reach out to the leaders outside the parliamentary party also.

The rebel MPs also posed their confidence in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, against whom Chirag had led a massive campaign during the election, lending their weight to him in Bihar signalling that they are keen to get back to normalcy.

This assumes significance also because it comes in the wake of widespread speculation that Prime Minister Modi is gearing up to reshuffle his Union Council of Ministers.

The rebels elected Hajipur MP and Chirag’s uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras as the party leader.

On Sunday evening, five of the six Lok Janashakti Party MPs went to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a letter. The five MPs – Pashupati Kumar Paras (Hajipur MP), Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser (Khagaria) Veena Devi (Vaishali) Prince Raj (Samastipur) and Chandan Singh (Nawada) – told the Speaker that they would like to work under Paras as their parliamentary party leader. Sources said the MPs also made it clear that the LJP would work as part of BJP-led NDA.

Sources in the Speaker’s office have confirmed their meeting.

A note – described as the minutes of the LJP Parliamentary party and signed by five of them – said that Paras is elected “unanimously” as the parliamentary party leader and Ali Kaiser as the deputy leader of the party. In a statement released to the media, Paras has said that being part of the NDA both at the centre and the state was a “wish” senior Paswan always had.

The latest developments in LJP is good news for the JD(U) more than the BJP. But a section in the BJP has been antagonised with Chirag for what they called “crossing the limits and reaching to a state of no compromise” during the election time. This section blames Chirag’s shenanigans during the election time – he kept on attacking Nitish Kumar viciously questioning his leadership of the NDA despite repeated warnings including those ones publicly – for the narrow majority that the alliance managed in Bihar. “Chirag has been under the bad influence of an aide and ended up committing political foolishness. Had Ram Vilas Paswan been alive, he would not have let it happen,” said a BJP leader.

BJP leaders alleged that the aide’s influence had prompted Chirag to keep every well-wisher away even during the last days of senior Paswan. “He was a cabinet minister, still there was no daily medical bulletin. The family kept everyone away from him when he was ill,” said a BJP MP from Bihar.

However, the BJP sources claimed that it did not have any role in the latest developments. “But the changes in the party are good for both the JD(U) and the NDA,” said a senior party leader.

With the changes, the new LJP is not expected to face any objections from the JD(U) to become an active part of the NDA. In January this year, the BJP which had sent an invite to Chirag Paswan to be part of a virtual NDA meeting, had to request him not to be present after the JD(U) raised objections to it. Chirag then cited health issues not to attend the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. JD(U) leaders had told The Indian Express that it would not let the BJP make the LJP part of the NDA or the Union Government.

At a time when there is intense speculation over a cabinet reshuffle, LJP’s move is a clear signal that it wanted to be part of the governments at the centre and in Bihar, which would not have been possible if Chirag is at the helm of affairs.

Last week, the JD(U) had publicly demanded that the allies should get a respectable share in the Union Government.

The LJP had walked out of the NDA in Bihar last year due to its opposition to Nitish Kumar and contested the state assembly polls on its own. It put up candidates in all the seats where the JD(U) was in the fray while largely spared the BJP except for a few seats. Though the LJP could win only one seat in the Bihar polls, it inflicted serious damage on the JD(U), whose tally fell to 43 from 71.

(With inputs from Santosh Singh)

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