Cornered by a rebel faction led by his uncle in the Lok Janshakti Party, Chirag Paswan on Wednesday refused to lie low and appointed his right-hand man Raju Tiwari as the party’s Bihar unit president amid a tug-of-war in the LJP for control.
The post was originally held by Chirag Paswan’s cousin Prince Raj, one of the five MPs who rebelled on Monday under the leadership of Pashupati Kumar Paras and asked the Lok Sabha Speaker recognise them as a separate group.
Facing rebellion, Paswan alleged he was illegally removed as the party president and was ready to fight a legal battle over it. “If Pashupati Paras wanted to be the leader of the party in Parliament, he could have told me and I would have happily made him the leader. The way I was removed was completely illegal. We are also ready for a legal battle," he said.
Alleging that JDU was behind the division, Paswan, MP from Jamui, said, “JDU as a party has always tried to divide other parties that come up to give them a fight. We are devising a legal way to respond to everything that has happened in the past few days. JDU is solely responsible for the current situation."
Claiming that he has been betrayed, Paswan said, “I have not been keeping well for the past few days. I am still recovering from typhoid… What hurts me the most is the fact that when I was on bed rest, such a strategy was made behind my back."
“I tried my level best to make sure that the party and family stays united. Even my mother tried to contact uncle but was not able to do so," he said.
Meanwhile, Paras hit back at Paswan saying, “You must ask Chirag Paswan why he removed me from the state president’s post. He did it even when he doesn’t hold power. We contested Bihar elections under my supervision and all 6 MPs won. We received the highest percentage of vote as per election commission’s report."
On his first visit to Bihar since the dramatic turn of events that saw him leading the rebellion by all but one of six LJP MPs, Paras also asserted that Chirag had been “divested of" the post of national president on the previous day “in keeping with the party constitution".
“The party constitution stipulates that one person can hold only one post. Chirag, however, was the national president, the chairman of the parliamentary board and the leader in the House, all rolled into one. We have corrected that", he said. He also said that while Suraj Bhan Singh, a former MP, has been made the “working president" and a full-time national chief of the LJP will be elected here on Thursday.
Interestingly, both factions of the LJP have so far pledged loyalty towards the BJP-led NDA though neither the saffron party nor the JD(U) of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar blamed by Chirag’s supporters for the crisis have spoken on the issue. State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal dismissed the turmoil within the LJP as an “internal matter" of the party.