Rebel Lok Janshakti Party MP Pashupati Kumar Paras appeared to have scored a point on Thursday when he was unanimously elected as the new national president even as the faction headed by his cornered nephew Chirag Paswan dug in its heels and vowed to teach the “traitors" a lesson. Paras was declared elected unopposed after no other candidate filed his nomination papers for the top post in the party which has been in turmoil since the Hajipur MP pulled off a stunning political coup earlier this week, catching Chirag off guard.
Addressing a crowded press conference later, Paras fumed when asked what would have late Ram Vilas Paswan, the party’s founding president whose legacy is being invoked by both factions, made of the “chacha-bhatija" (uncle-nephew) fight. “Things are decided in a political party as per democratic norms. And what would the uncle do if the nephew was hell-bent on making a tamasha (spectacle) of himself", he shot back.
Paras, Ram Vilas Paswan’s youngest brother, has of late been critical of the stance adopted by Chirag, the late leaders son, of professing loyalty towards the BJP but attacking JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar who enjoys the saffron party’s full backing as the Bihar Chief Minister. Chirag and his supporters, however, claim that Paras was acting at the behest of Nitish Kumar, who wanted to extract revenge on the young LJP leader whose rebellion during the assembly polls had caused the JD(U)s tally to plummet.
Replying to a query, Paras, who had charged Chirag with not following “one man one post" principle of the LJP constitution, said “I will give up the post of the party’s leader in the Parliament if I am inducted into the Union council of ministers". He evaded a direct reply when asked whether, upon getting a ministerial berth, he will also relinquish the posts of national president and parliamentary board chairperson.
“You should understand the difference between a party post and a government post", said Paras. Meanwhile, supporters of the LJP faction loyal to Chirag took out a protest march on the streets of the city, raising slogans and setting fire to effigies of Paras and four other rebel MPs Prince Raj, Veena Devi, Chandan Kumar Singh and Mehboob Ali Qaisar.
Prince Raj, the Samastipur MP who is a first cousin of Chirag, was conspicuous by his absence at the meeting. The 31 years old debutant parliamentarian is facing the heat ever since Chirag disclosed, in a letter shared on Twitter, allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the former by an ex-functionary of the LJP.
“The meeting convened by the rebel group is in violation of the party constitution. The people are closely watching the traitors who are working to finish off their own party for personal ambitions. “They will be taught a lesson by the public", said Rajesh Bhatt, a spokesman of the undivided LJP who has chosen to remain with Chirag.