Amid reports of his uncle Pashupati Nath Paras getting an invite to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Union Cabinet later in the week, Chirag Paswan said Paras could not be appointed a minister from the LJP quota since he is no longer a part of the party.
Chirag, who is locked in a bitter feud with his uncle over struggle for power since his father — Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan— passed away, said he had written to the Election Commission about Paras and would write to PM Modi to convey the same. “He can be made minister as an Independent but if he is made minister as an LJP MP, then I have an objection to it. If he is made minister from the LJP quota, we will also go to court against it,” he said.
Chirag’s reaction comes amid buzz of the cabinet expansion on July 8, sources told CNN-News18. Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior party MP Narayan Rane are on their way to Delhi, adding to the buzz that they may soon be part of the prime minister’s team.
This was followed by a rejig of governors, with eight governors, including a Union minister, getting new postings.
Faced with an internal revolt, Chirag launched a yatra from Hajipur, his father’s traditional Lok Sabha seat, on Monday to rally the party’s supporters after the split of old party members.
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, 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 father’s 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 Paswan’s 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.
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.