Five of the six Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MPs have joined hands against Chirag Paswan and elected Pashupati Kumar Paras as their parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha in his place, causing a big churn in Bihar politics.
The group of five MPs had met Speaker Om Birla on Sunday night to inform him about their decision to replace Paswan with Paras as their leader.
Here is all you need to know about the split in the LJP
Why did the MPs split away?
The five MPs of the LJP reportedly have had disagreements with Chirag Paswan regarding unilateral decisions taken by him during last year’s Bihar Assembly elections after the death of his father and party founder Ram Vilas Paswan.
Paswan’s decision to contest the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls separately from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), another member of the NDA, was opposed by many. While Paswan campaigned against Kumar, the LJP fielded candidates on 138 seats in the 243-member assembly.
The LJP avoided fielding candidates where BJP was contesting as Paswan had promised a post-election alliance with the NDA. The LJP managed to win only one seat but was instrumental in cutting votes and reducing the number of seats that the JD(U) won.
What do the LJP members think?
The LJP’s lone MLA, Raj Kumar Singh, defected to the JD(U) soon after the results. LJP sources alleged that the outcome was inevitable. Many blamed Paswan’s perceived arrogance. “He never bothered to keep his promise of touring the state and interacting with the party workers,” sources told NDTV.
Earlier this year, 200 LJP leaders had defected to the JD(U), including former state general secretary Keshav Singh. Singh had predicted the party’s collapse and criticised Paswan for running the party like a “corporate house”.
“After the death of Ram Vilas Paswan on October 8, 2020, some of the unilateral decisions taken by the party leadership pushed the LJP to the brink of extinction,” Paras said. He added that “99 percent of LJP workers” were unhappy with the election results and the way Chirag handled things in Bihar.
What does this mean for Bihar?
The five MPs – Pashupati Kumar Paras, Paswan’s uncle; Prince Raj, Paswan’s cousin; Chandan Singh, Veena Devi and Mehboob Ali Kaiser – have elected Paras as the parliamentary leader of the LJP. Paras has clarified that the LJP will continue to be part of the NDA but will not be merging with another party.
However, sources said that JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had been orchestrating the coup with the help of LJP leaders Maheshwar Hazari and Lalan Singh.
How did JD(U) and BJP react?
JD(U) leaders were quick to blame the split on Paswan’s style of leadership. Responding to the development, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) said the LJP president was reaping what he had sown.
“It is a well-known adage that as you sow, so you reap. Chirag Paswan was heading a party which was with the NDA. Yet, he adopted a stance that damaged it in the assembly polls. This led to a sense of unease within his own party,” said JD(U) national president RCP Singh.
“The manner in which the negative politics was done in the last assembly elections, his party members and other leaders must have been unhappy, only then have they taken such a big decision and formed a new parliamentary party under the leadership of Pashupati Paras,” Bihar minister and senior JD(U) leader Ashok Chaudhary told India Today TV.
The BJP on the other hand has distanced itself from Paswan.
“Now the central leadership will take an appropriate decision on whether to stand with Chirag Paswan or not,” said BJP national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan.
What next for Chirag Paswan?
Soon after the news of the ouster was announced, Paswan rushed to Paras’ Delhi home. However, the meeting couldn’t take place as Paras was unavailable. Paswan is now left alone in his own party after alienating several key members and a string of setbacks.
Paras, however, has not ruled out working with his nephew again in the future. “Chirag Paswan is my nephew as well as the party’s national president. I have no objection against him,” he said.
(Edited by: By Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST