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Thursday, August 05, 2021

With ‘expulsions’ on both sides, LJP is split wide open

On Monday, Paras, himself an MP, had claimed support of four of the five remaining MPs of the LJP barring Chirag, and removed Chirag as the parliamentary party leader. Paras claimed he was "not breaking the party", but "saving it".

Written by Dipankar Ghose , Santosh Singh | New Delhi, Patna |
Updated: June 16, 2021 7:06:29 am
Chirag Paswan (left); uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras

WITH both Chirag Paswan and uncle Pashupati Ram Paras claiming control over the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), and passing orders “expelling” each other, the LJP seemed headed for a formal split Tuesday.

On Monday, Paras, himself an MP, had claimed support of four of the five remaining MPs of the LJP barring Chirag, and removed Chirag as the parliamentary party leader. Paras claimed he was “not breaking the party”, but “saving it”. On Tuesday, the Paras faction said it had removed Chirag as LJP chief.

Chirag, in turn, held a meeting of the LJP National Executive on Zoom, and announced expulsion of the five ‘rebel’ MPs from the party. LJP leaders said the resolution had been sent to the Election Commission and the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Chirag also released a letter ostensibly written by him to Paras on March 31, indicating that the latter had been resentful of him since the death of LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan in October 2020.

Sources said the Paras faction might pick former MP Suraj Bhan Singh as the LJP chief in place of Chirag, within couple of days. This would also illustrate how Chirag had been violating the party’s ‘one person, one post norm’ by holding several positions, sources said.

In his first public comments on the controversy, Chirag tweeted that he had tried to keep the LJP built by his father Paswan and the family together but was unsuccessful. “The party is akin to a mother and nobody should betray a mother. In a democracy, the people are supreme. I thank the people that believe in the party,” he posted.

The letter he released, running into four pages, talks about Paras’s various grievances, including his alleged unhappiness at another Paswan kin, Prince Raj, being made Bihar LJP chief. Prince Raj is among the MPs backing Paras. Chirag also claimed that the late Paswan too had been unhappy about Paras’s attitude since Chirag was elected party chief, and that Paras’s praise of Nitish Kumar had affected the LJP’s performance in the Bihar elections (the party won one seat; with the MLA later crossing over).

The party drama also played out in Patna, where Chirag’s supporters held a protest at the LJP office and blackened posters of the five ‘rebel’ MPs — who include Beena Devi, Mehboob Ali Qaiser and Chandan Singh, apart from Paras and Prince Raj. LJP leaders in Bihar were part of the National Executive meeting held virtually by Chirag from Delhi, where it was announced that the five were being removed from the primary membership of the LJP with immediate effect. The resolution also pointedly addressed Chirag as the ‘national president of the LJP’.

LJP general secretary Abdul Khalique, whose signature is on the resolution, told The Indian Express a copy had been sent to the Election Commission and Speaker Om Birla. Khalique added, “One president, six vice-presidents, one treasurer, 16 general secretaries, 16 secretaries, 15 members of frontal organisations — the body to elect the president has to have a minimum 75 members. This body has the power to act. If the person holds a senior post like state president or MP, the matter can be sent to the disciplinary committee. But in an emergency of this kind, the National Executive has the power to remove anyone for anti-party activities.”

A leader said there seemed little chance of a reconciliation. “These are now legal matters… whether they can displace Chirag as parliamentary leader, or Chirag can remove them from the party, who is legal president… This is now going to be a battle.”

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