Lok Janshakti Party leader Pashupati Kumar Paras on Wednesday challenged Chirag Paswan’s contention that the election of the former as the head of the parliamentary party was invalid since such a decision could be taken “only by the national president or the chairman of the parliamentary board".
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, on the day the rebel faction claims to have removed Chirag as national president, he had ordered “expulsion" on ground of “anti-party activities" of Paras and the four other MPs Chandan Kumar, Veena Devi, Prince Raj and Mehboob Ali Qaisar. Chirag Paswan, son of late LJP founding president Ram Vilas Paswan, who has been cornered in the very party he had been heading for nearly a year, had at a press conference in Delhi earlier in the day raised questions over the Lok Sabha Speaker giving recognition to the rebel faction which has chosen Paras as its leader.
Shortly after Chirag was done with his media briefing, Paras, his fathers youngest brother and MP from Hajipur constituency which Paswan senior represented a number of times, landed at the Patna airport whre he received a rousing welcome by enthusiastic supporters. He drove straight to the partys state headquarters, barely 200 metres away, where posters depicting his image as of the five MPs supporting him adorned the walls, replacing those in which Chirag occupied the centrestage.
Chirags protesters, who had on Tuesday barged into the premises and defaced and torn down posters of Paras and his supporters, came shouting slogans and waving black flags but they were thwarted by police personnel on duty. The disgruntled LJP workers squatted on the roadside in protest against the alleged hijacking of the party founded by their leader’s father.
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.
The stance has, however, been questioned by the opposition RJD which has started sending feelers to Chirag that having burnt his fingers in the NDA, he should contemplate crossing over to the Grand Alliance. Chirag, as national president of the LJP, is authorized to take any action including expulsion of party MPs. Paras can be acknowledged as the leader of the breakaway faction but not LJP.
“It appears that both BJP and JD(U) have hatched a conspiracy to finish off its junior ally", said Shakti Singh Yadav, RJD spokesman. RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary, an old associate of Ram Vilas Paswan, issued an impassioned statement likening Chirag to the root of a tree and Paras and his supporters as branches.
He claimed that goings on in the LJP have led to “bhari aakrosh (intense anger)" among supporters of Ram Vilas Paswan and questioned the “belated sense of unease" shown by Paras towards the leadership of Chirag who was “elected as national president in the very life time of Ram Vilas bhai". “Chirags rebellion against Nitish Kumar, which has suddenly made him a persona non grata, was not without the tacit approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who did not speak a word on LJPs stance at any of the dozen rallies he addressed during assembly polls. The young leader has been used and dumped", Tiwary alleged.
“He must, therefore, think of joining the Grand Alliance and work with Tejashwi Yadav. The two young leaders should come together to give a new direction to politics in Bihar", the RJD leader added.