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Beginning of the end for the party?

The family coup of Paswans has sent Lok Janshaki Party (LJP) in political ICU seriously injured gasping for breath. The Sunday night coup took a complete circle by Thursday dethroning Chirag Paswan of both the positions of the parliamentary party leader as well as the party national President. Both positions are now occupied by Pashupati Kumar Paras, Chirag’s own paternal uncle and the eldest of living Paswans.

To recapitulate in brief, five of the six members of Parliament of LJP, baring Chirag Paswan only, revolted, met and decided to ‘elect’ Pashupati as their leader. All the five met Lok Sabha Speaker on Sunday night itself, who was quick to accept the position and notifying this too. Later in Patna the party ‘working committee’ elected him as national President too. Chirag, in turn, expelled the five ‘rebel’ MPs from the primary membership of the party and also wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker challenging notification granting the parliamentary leader position to Paras. 

LJP has been a pocket book party of its founder Late Ram Vilas Paswan, the self-made tallest of the dalit leaders of Bihar, who could craft and maneuver his path too successfully enabling himself a member of Parliament right from 1977 until his death as well as a cabinet position in the center across political affiliations – from VP Singh to Deve Gowda to Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh to Narendra Modi. In Delhi, he could remain an irrefutable and indispensable Dalit face. The six Lok Sabha members that his party has, three are from his family – Paras, his own younger brother, Chirag, his son and Prince Raj, his own nephew stepping in after the death of another younger brother member of Lok Sabha, Ram Chandra Paswan. 

Pashupati had been the declared number two of the party, next to Ram Vilas only, who was nurtured, nourished and immensely loved and trusted, who would command the party on behalf of his elder brother. All this changed after 2013-14, when Ram Vilas’s son joined the scene and was declared successor by his father. Paras was continually being cut to size disrobing him of all positions. Discontent and dissatisfaction were already simmering in Paras even when Ram Vilas was still at the helm, which intensified after his death and the Bihar assembly elections made this worse. The way Chirag annoyed and ignored all the seniors in the party, went ahead with his ill-thought and poorly-devised plans – all out against Nitish and his JD (U) – in the elections, as a consequence of which the party became a big zero in the state, made the boiling pot burst out.

Chirag is Ram Vilas’s son from his second wife and never lived in Bihar. He is not aware of the bare political realities of the state. He went on taking decisions without taking seniors into confidence, surrounded by yes-men and sycophants, which took him to the blind road of devastating failures. By the time he could sense the danger, it was too late and his father was not there to rescue him.  

Other fuming factors too were desperately waiting to explode.

First and foremost factor, undoubtedly, was Nitish Kumar. Post 2005, Nitish has been the face of Bihar politics – the perceived savior from Lalu’s proverbial jungal raj and widely accepted ‘Vikas Purush’ of state. He is destined to be known as the longest serving Chief Minister of the state (from 2005 and continuing) without his party ever having a majority on its own and even being a junior partner of the coalition in 2015 and 2020. Being a seasoned politician in his own rights, he is known not to forget his scars and his trouble-makers. He is also known to finish them without giving them the chance to cry – a fatal blow and the victim gone without whimper.  

Nitish is said to have been quite uncomfortable, rather restless, after the last elections. The worst happened to him – he got to hold on the chair of the Chief Minister, but this time the glory was gone. The least he wanted was the obligation of BJP and especially of Narendra Modi – he was made to be the junior partner of BJP and causing this humiliation was Chirag Paswan and his LJP. Ram Vilas, unfortunately, was no more and he just grumbled. But then LJP too had the fatal blow from the elections. The lone member it could send to the assembly, easily came to JD (U). The lone member at the council went to BJP – LJP became a blank zero in both the houses.

BJP is widely believed to have pampered Chirag to take on Nitish to cut him to size but it took lot of time for BJP to realize that the move was fiercely double-edged which not only cut Nitish to size but sliced BJP’s flesh too and eventually it did also help Lalu’s RJD enhance its numbers, which went on to become the single largest party of the house stealing the conceived aura from BJP and leaving NDA highly vulnerable. With the star campaigners all over, neither BJP nor JD (U) could even touch the 2010 numbers (BJP got 91 and JD (U) 115 then) when NDA did not rule the center and Narendra Modi was not there as the super star campaigner. It will take lots of mental exercise of political scientists to analyze and explain as to why the BJP did what it did.

Be it as it may, Nitish made his anger about LJP quite known to BJP that he would no longer tolerate Chirag’s adventure in NDA. BJP was made to just look on. Ram Vilas’s vacancy in Rajya Sabha would not go to LJP and Chirag will not even fill in his father’s seat in the center ministry. From Bihar Rajya Sabha bye-election BJP’s Sushil Modi, the trusted partner of Nitish, was sent to Rajya Sabha and Chirag, the self-declared Hanuman, was kept waiting for any blessing from his Ram.

For none other than Nitish would know it better what was cooking in Paras’s brain who had been his staunch supporter and cheer leader. In 2017, when he came back to NDA, he did not only inducted Paras in his ministry but also got him nominated in Vidhan Parishad from Governor’s quota and while Chirag went on making harshest of comments against Nitish, Paras continued in his ministry safely. Paras had been openly dead against going against Nitish during the elections.

Chirag must be a kid when the 2005 Feb elections resulted in a hung assembly, LJP got its best 29 numbers, Ram Vilas’s stubbornness resulted in President’s rule in the state. Nitish did, then, enroll half of LJP’s numbers in JD (U) robbing it off too harshly which Ram Vilas could never digest. Eight months later in Oct-Nov when another election was held Nitish could make it to be the NDA Chief Minister.

While taking over the command of the party, the very first statement Paras made was the praise for Nitish and declaration of full support to state NDA. Before this cool family coup, hundreds of LJP leaders in the state were already enrolled in JD (U). Everything is being done to leave Chirag without any ground to stand at in the state.

It would not surprise anyone in Bihar if the five LJP Lok Sabha members decide to merge themselves with JD (U). The reshuffle at the center is bound to take place and JD (U) has already refused token representation long back and insisted on the proportional representation. He may also very well open his own doors for them to take in. Will LJP still sustain and/or will Chirag be able to bounce back – it will be too long a time before we will see this!   



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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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