Faced with an internal revolt, Chirag Paswan will launch a yatra from Hajipur, his father Ram Vilas Paswan’s traditional Lok Sabha seat, on Monday to rally the party’s supporters after the split of old party members.
Chirag had on June 20 announced he launch of ‘aashirvaad yatra’ from July 5, the birth anniversary of his father and party founder, as his faction takes the fight with a rival group to the streets.
Paswan’s announcement came following a meeting of the LJP national executive which endorsed his leadership and hit out at a faction headed by his paternal uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras for its work against the party’s constitution. He asserted that over 90 per cent of the national executive members were in the meeting.
The decision to launch the yatra from Hajipur is significant because Ram Vilas Paswan was elected to Lok Sabha from here a number of times and Paras represents the seat now in the House. Chirag Paswan said Hajipur had been ‘karmabhoomi’ of his father. The yatra will roll out across the state, and the party’s national council will be held after this. The executive also passed a resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Ram Vilas Paswan.
Meanwhile, paying tributes to the Dalit leader and Lok Janshakti Party founder Ram Vilas Paswan on his birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that his contributions to public service and empowering the downtrodden will always be remembered.
A minister in the Modi government, Paswan died in October last year. He was among the most experienced parliamentarians and had served as a minister in governments led by different parties, ranging from socialist groups to the Congress and the BJP.
In a tweet Modi said, “Today is the birth anniversary of my friend, late Ram Vilas Paswan Ji. I miss his presence greatly. He was one of India"s most experienced Parliamentarians and administrators. His contributions to public service and empowering the downtrodden will always be remembered."
Today is the birth anniversary of my friend, late Ram Vilas Paswan Ji. I miss his presence greatly. He was one of India’s most experienced Parliamentarians and administrators. His contributions to public service and empowering the downtrodden will always be remembered.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 5, 2021
Paswan’s death has led to factional fight within his party with both his son Chirag Paswan and his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras claiming to be representing the LJP.
Paras recently expressed his disapproval of Chirag’s programme and questioned whether the birth anniversary of his father was an occasion for paying tributes or to seek blessings of the people.
He also advised his nephew, with whom he has burnt his bridges, to hold his programmes in Jamui the Lok Sabha seat he is representing for the second consecutive term. With numbers on his side, Paras has managed to lay claim on the party’s resources like its state headquarters building here, where a function will be organized on the occasion of the jayanti of its founding president, who breathed his last in October last year.
Nonetheless, he faces the daunting challenge of rallying the Paswan community in the state, who looked upon the former Union minister as their icon, with Chirag expected to leave no stones unturned to project himself as the rightful heir of his fathers legacy. Acrimony between the two factions has already started playing out on the streets. On Saturday, Chirag supporters waved black flags at local MP Mehboob Ali Kaiser in Khagaria, which incidentally also happens to be Paswans home district.
Kaiser is a former state Congress president who, upon joining the LJP, secured the ticket from Khagaria in 2014 and went on to become the only Muslim MP from the NDA at that time. Five years later, trust was again reposed in him by Ram Vilas Paswan for the party ticket and his siding with Paras camp is being viewed by Chirag supporters as a betrayal.
It would be interesting to note the stance adopted by NDAs major constituents in Bihar BJP and Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) on the birth anniversary celebrations. The JD(U) has been facing accusations of having engineered the split to avenge Chirags rebellion against Nitish Kumar in the assembly polls.
The BJP has been charged with silence by Chirag who has always held that he was to Prime Minister Narendra Modi what Hanuman was to Lord Rama. The saffron party has not shunned Chirag openly, though Speaker Om Birla giving recognition to the breakaway faction shows that it is not averse to doing business with the rival camp either. The day also coincides with inauguration of silver jubilee celebrations of RJD, arguably the party with the largest presence in the state whose leader Tejashwi Yadav has already held out an olive branch to Chirag, reminding him of the close ties between the late Paswan and his father Lalu Prasad.