Updated: June 17, 2021 9:45:21 am
In first public comments after he was ousted as leader of his own party, Chirag Paswan on Wednesday said the rebels had no right to take decisions under the constitution of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), and that he was prepared for the long legal battle that lay ahead.
Five of the six MPs of the LJP have revolted against Paswan, son of the late Ram Vilas Paswan, and elected his uncle and leader of the rebellion, Hajipur MP Pashupati Kumar Paras, the party’s leader in Lok Sabha.
On Wednesday, two days after the Lok Sabha Secretariat recognised Paras in the post, Paswan wrote to Speaker Om Birla to say that the leader of the LJP in Lok Sabha could be appointed only by the parliamentary board of the party, and that the Lok Sabha Secretariat should issue a fresh circular recognising him again as the LJP leader in the House.
“Contrary to what some people claim, that Chirag Paswan is no longer LJP president or that he has been removed from the post, I want to put before you what the party’s constitution says,” Paswan, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Jamui, told reporters on Wednesday.
“The way he (Paras) was declared leader was wrong according to our constitution. Only the party’s parliamentary board can decide who will be the leader in Parliament or Assembly. And in the absence of the parliamentary board, this power lies with the national president… They (the rebels) are simply not authorised to call a meeting or take these decisions,” he said.
The attempts to break the LJP had started before the Bihar Assembly elections of last year, Paswan said, and blamed people who he said only wanted “comfortable politics”.
“Even during and before the election, when my father (Ram Vilas Paswan) was in hospital, several attempts were made to break the party. When he (Ram Vilas) spoke to some party leaders for the last time in the ICU, he had wanted to know why he was hearing such news. He told Uncle (Paswan’s younger brother Paras) this… It is clear that some people in the party who were not okay with the path of struggle, who wanted to be in comfortable politics… Sadly, my uncle is included (among them), he did not work for us, and played no role in the campaign,” Paswan said.
Paswan also alleged that the JD(U) had “a hand in this (his ouster)” — but said he could not point a finger at others when his “own had betrayed him”.
“The JD(U) definitely has a hand in this. But this is an internal matter (of LJP). If your own betray you, how can you point a finger at outsiders? I need to understand whose hand is at work internally, who is doing what. But I will say that the role the JD(U) has played…they have had a history of divide and rule,” Paswan said.
In October 2020, ahead of the Bihar elections, Paswan had famously described himself as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Hanuman”, and said Modi resided in his heart. On Wednesday, asked if he would seek help from the BJP in his crisis, Paswan said: “If Hanuman has to ask for help from his Ram, then what kind of Hanuman is this, and what kind of Ram?”
Paswan defended his decision to walk out of the NDA in Bihar, saying he was happy that the LJP had received 6 per cent of the vote.
“Sometimes in electoral politics, victory is decided only and only with numbers, with how many MLAs got elected… But for me this was a big victory; it used to be said that LJP is a 2 per cent, 3 per cent, 4 per cent party. We consolidated 6 per cent of the vote… I am happy that the LJP and I did not compromise on our principles,” Paswan said.
The LJP was wiped out in the polls, and won only one seat.
Paswan described himself as the “son of a lion”, who would not give up the fight.
“I am Ram Vilas Paswan’s son. I am the son of a lion. I was not afraid to fight the (Bihar) elections alone when my father had just died… Today I have the support of my party, its office-bearers, and the biggest thing is that the people of Bihar are with me, and are showing their love and support,” he said.
Later on Wednesday evening, Paswan issued an order on his letterhead, appointing former MLA Raju Tiwari as the Bihar state president of the LJP.
Tiwari, a close Paswan loyalist who had accompanied him when he had tried unsuccessfully to meet his uncle Paras two days ago, will replace Prince Raj, the MP from Samastipur — should the order hold.
Prince, who is the son of Ram Vilas’s youngest brother Ram Chandra Paswan who passed away in 2019, is one of the four LJP MPs who have joined hands with Paras against Chirag Paswan.