Updated: June 21, 2021 7:09:23 am
The battle for control for the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is now set to be played out in the streets of Bihar after Chirag Paswan — son of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan — announced that from July 5, the birth anniversary of his late father, he would start an ‘Aashirvad Yatra’ through the state.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Chirag said the yatra would start from his father’s ‘karmabhoomi’ of Hajipur. The region is of particular importance as it is the Lok Sabha constituency of Chirag’s uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is leading the group that claimed to have ousted Chirag as both leader of the house in the Lok Sabha and as National LJP president.
The announcement comes on a day when Chirag called a “national executive” meeting in Delhi, and passed a resolution reiterating his position as LJP’s national president and condemned the actions of the group led by Paras.
The meeting comes a day after Paras allegedly disbanded the ‘national executive’ and appointed a fresh one under his own leadership, therefore suggesting that Sunday’s meeting at Chirag’s 12 Janpath residence had no meaning. On Sunday, Paras also said that the Assembly at Paswan’s home comprised of a “rented crowd”.
The real battle for control of the party is now set to be played out in two parallel forums — one institutional, such as the Election Commission (EC), Lok Sabha and eventually, courts.
Both sides have approached the EC claiming legitimacy, and asking for the other to be barred from using the party symbol. On Saturday, Chirag also met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, a week after Paras and the five MP’s had done the same, making the claim that moves made by Paras did not pass muster of the party constitution. Chirag asked for the Lok Sabha to reinstate him as Leader of the LJP in the house.
A senior party leader close to Chirag however said the move to travel around the state is the most important one Paswan has made. “These are claims that will be settled in the courts or in the ECI. The most important factor is where the votebase is swaying, and we believe it is firmly with Chirag Paswan. It is him that is seen as having fought bravely for the party in the election, and these MPs are just opportunists. So, we are going to go to every district in Bihar and show the support Chirag has at the ground level. That will make it clear to everyone who the real LJP is. Pashupati Paras was not popular in Hajipur by himself. He was popular because of Ram Vilas ji. Now, we will show that if you try and split the family, even the people of Hajipur see Chirag as the legacy of our late beloved leader,” the leader said.
Sunday’s meeting at Chirag’s house was a show of strength, with many leaders present and the Paswan faction claiming the presence of more than 90 per cent of the ‘national executive’. In a pledge, the faction pledged their allegiance to Chirag. They also asked him to help those in Bihar that were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the impending rains and floods.
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