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Why Speculation of Chirag Paswan’s Shift to Another Lok Sabha Seat is Bad News for NDA

File photo of Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan.

File photo of Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan.

The first phase of elections is complete in Bihar's Jamui district and the voter turnout is 54 percent, slightly higher than 2014.

Patna: A speculation can sometimes hit a political figure real hard and Chirag Paswan, the sitting MP of Jamui, seems to have become victim of the same. The bickering within the NDA suggests that Chirag, son and heir of Lok Janshakti Party's (LJP) Ram Vilas Paswan, having faced the electorate in Jamui where polling took place in the first phase, may also try his luck from another parliamentary seat as he is apprehensive of a 'sabotage' in the Lok Sabha elections.

The speculation is relevant because the LJP has accused local JD(U) leaders of sabotaging the elections and demanded JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar to take action against them.

Denying the buzz regarding Chirag’s shift, Ajay Kumar, national spokesperson and general secretary of LJP, told News 18: “Our two candidates have already contested in the first phase. LJP leader Pashupati Nath Paras is filling his nomination on April 15. So how does the question of Chirag Paswan trying his luck again in this election arise?”

He accused the local JD (U) leaders of trying to sabotage the polls, saying: “We urge the top leadership of JD (U) to take action against those leaders who have tried to sabotage the election.”

The apprehension within the Paswan community has made it passive towards the JD(U) that has approximately 5 per cent electoral. The demography of Jamui is heterogeneous and the Kushwaha community has already sided with Upendra Kushwaha, who quit the BJP-led NDA last year, and any further dent will create problem for the NDA candidate.

Former JDU minister Narendra Singh, and his two sons Sumeet and Ajay Pratap (former MLA from Jamui and Chakai), have been accused by the LJP of sabotaging the general elections.

“Narendra Singh was expecting a ticket from the NDA and when denied, he and his sons started opposing Chirag for sake the of their own future,“ claimed Manoranjan Singh, a local resident and social worker in Jamui.

Countering the allegation, Sumeet singh, another resident of Sono block in Jamui, said: “Sumeet Singh and his father Narendra Singh were humiliated in a meeting called by chief minister Nitish Kumar. Slogans were raised against them and it did not go down well with their supporters.”

The rivalry between Chirag Paswan and the family of Narendra Singh goes back to the 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections in Bihar. Bak then, Ajay Pratap managed to get a BJP ticket in Jamui Vidhan Sabha but Sumeet Singh was denied ticket from Chakai Vidhan Sabha of Jamui.

Chakai was handed over to the LJP and Sumeet finally decided to contest independently. “Narendra Singh enjoys stronghold in Jamui since the last 30 years and Chirag is an emerging leader there. It is said that Chirag played a crucial role in ensuring Ajay Pratap and Sumeet Singh’s defeat,” said Srinivas Singh, a senior journalist. Both sides are now indulged in a battle to ensure a firm grip in the region.

“Things turned in Chirag’s favour after the visit of PM Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh, said Manoj Singh, a local businessman.

Further clarification came from JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar. “The NDA alliance is strong and any act of sabotage will be repulsed by the people themselves,” he said.

This region has a sizable population of the dominant Rajput caste. The adjoining Lok Sabha seat is Banka from where Digvijay Singh, who was minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was once a popular leader.

His wife Putul Devi, who had lost the last elections on BJP ticket with a meagre margin of less than 10,000 votes, has been denied ticket this time and is fighting as an independent candidate from Banka.

“The denial of ticket to former MP Putul Devi and humiliation of Narendra Singh’s family had irked the Rajput and a few other sections,” said Iqbal a resident of Tarapur in Jamui.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Chirag won the Jamui seat with more than 85,000 votes. His father, the tallest leader of Paswan community, has passed the baton to his son and not fighting the 2019 elections.

Chirag is being tested for his ability to get along with varied sections of society and to take them to the next level of association, a knack that his father was quite adept at.

The first phase of elections has been completed in Jamui and the voter turnout is 54 percent, slightly higher than 2014. It remains to be seen who the Kuswaha community will support or oppose this time as RLSP leader Upendra kushwaha has changed camp and joined the grand alliance.

Kushwaha has a sizable population in Jamui and local leader Samrat Chaudhary’s denial of ticket is another reason which may alienate the Kushwaha community from NDA. So any further dent in the traditional voters like Rajpoot may spoil Chirag’s in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The grand alliance is now trying to polarise the anti-NDA votes with its own support base and reducing the leakage of Opposition votes, if any. Their support base consists of Muslims and Yadavs and Kushwaha and Manjhi communities, which make for a formidable block in the state.