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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Chirag Paswan: ‘Our party strengthened in Jharkhand… that’s why we decided to contest alone’

Chirag Paswan announced that his party will contest from 50 seats in the upcoming Jharkhand Assembly elections.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: November 13, 2019 7:25:24 am
Chirag Paswan: ‘Our party strengthened in Jharkhand... that’s why we decided to contest alone’ Chirag Paswan at his residence in New Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Chirag Paswan, the Lok Sabha MP from Jamui, has been elected the LJP president, replacing his father and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and has announced that his party will contest from 50 seats in the upcoming Jharkhand Assembly elections. He speaks to Harikishan Sharma about the issue of nepotism, the challenges ahead, and about the upcoming Assembly elections in Jharkhand, Bihar and Delhi.

You have big shoes to fill. How do you look at the challenge and opportunity?

I am confident, and this confidence comes from my father only because he has given me that scope of taking decisions… Since the time I became the chairman of LJP’s central parliamentary board, whatever decision I wanted to take, he gave me the freedom. His guidance will be there always. I hope that I live up to the expectations — not only of my father but also to the people of my party.

Ram Vilas Paswan is a champion of Dalit issues. Why should the Dalit support base, so carefully crafted by your father, trust you?

I might not have lived through those issues but the background, place and state that I come from is largely dominated by caste set-up. That has given me a lot of experience because when I go back to my native place or when I go back to Bihar, I also deal with these issues. When the SC/ST Atrocities Act was diluted, I was the only one who raised the issue very strongly. I think this gives confidence to people coming from my caste that I will raise their issues.

What is your view on Mayawati and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad?

About Mayawati ji, I am just a little confused with her working style. There have been times when she spoke against people from upper castes, then eventually she joined hands (with them), so I have seen a mix in her working style. (But) it doesn’t concern me what Bhim Army is doing and what their leaders are doing.

What will be your answer to questions of nepotism?

Well, I can’t shy away from the issue of nepotism. I myself am the outcome of the same. I will be the last person to run away from this. I honestly believe that when you are in the public domain, eventually, it’s the people of the country who decide your fate, no matter which big family you come from. I’ll give you an example — had this (nepotism) been the reason (for success in the political arena), my elder sister Misa Bharti, the daughter of Lalu (Prasad) ji, would have won elections but she lost twice from Pataliputra.

What are the issues that you, as a new leader, suggest the government should focus on over the next five years?

The LJP is a 19-year-old party; we have a young leadership. My focus is going to be on youngsters who are the future of the country. There are many issues concerning them and employment is one of the issues.

The immediate task in front of you is the Jharkhand Assembly election, where you have decided to contest from 50 seats.

I had huge pressure from the state unit (of the party) to contest alone, though I wanted to contest under an alliance. I had given it in writing to (BJP president) Amit Shah ji, (BJP working president) J P Nadda ji, and the Jharkhand CM (Raghubar Das), but didn’t get any positive response. Our party has strengthened in Jharkhand over the years. That is why we decided to contest alone…

Does your party plan to contest the coming Delhi Assembly elections?

Yes, definitely. As the president, I am very clear my first preference will be under an alliance but in case we are not able to hold up an alliance, we will be contesting alone in the coming elections in different states.

The Bihar Assembly elections are due next year. Do you think the time has come for the state to have a young chief minister?

As of now, I am very confident that the face for NDA will be Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ji. I am confident that in 2020, he will not only be the face (of the alliance) but will be CM again. But, yes, for 2025 I don’t know, definitely a young face will emerge.

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