Member of Parliament (MP) Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) witnessed a massive setback on Monday after five out of its six MPs (Paswan being the sixth) in the Lok Sabha revolted against him.
Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is a first-time MP from Hajipur and the younger brother of late LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan, led the rebellion against his nephew.
Four LJP MPs, including Chirag Paswan's cousin Prince Raj (who is the son of another uncle Chandan Singh), Veena Devi and Mehboob Ali Kaiser backed Paras to be the leader of party's parliamentary board. He was on June 13 unanimously elected to the post.
The five MPs also wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, asking to be treated as separate group. They are reportedly going to meet with the Speaker to formally ask for Paswan's removal as their leader.
What led to the rebellion?
Paras said 99% of the party workers and leaders were opposed to the style of functioning of Paswan and they were trying for the last six months to save the party from getting written off. Paras also said he has no objection in welcoming his nephew to the party under his (Paras) leadership. He regretted that Chirag had ignored the advice of the party leaders and fielded LJP candidates in all constituencies in last year's Bihar Assembly elections. For the uninitiated, only one candidate Rajkumar Singh won the election and he also joined the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United).
"There are 6 MPs in our party. It was the desire of 5 MPs to save our party. So, I've not broken the party, I've saved it. Chirag Paswan is my nephew as well as party's national president. I have no objection against him," said Paras. "5 MPs have submitted letter to the Speaker, we will go and meet him as and when he orders," he added.
Seeds of rebellion were sown last year:
According to NDTV, the split was inevitable as Paras and Paswan were hardly on talking terms. They used to communicate through letters. Paras, who was considered as Ram Vilas Paswan's Man Friday, was upset after Chirag took control of the party. Reportedly, Paras did not approve of his nephew's decision to contest the Bihar Assembly elections separately.
Moreover, a comment made by Paras praising Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, weeks before the November 2020 polls, had also infuriated Paswan. After the comment, Paswan had threatened to expel his uncle from the party and reportedly said: "You are not my blood." "Your uncle is dead to you from now," Paras reportedly replied.
The LJP leaders were also apparently not in favour of the "stubborn, arrogant and inaccessible" Paswan, sources told NDTV. Many found Paras' style of functioning closer to that of the late LJP founder, they added.
JD(U)'s role in the split:
It is believed that Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh and Bihar Assembly Deputy Speaker Maheshwar Hazari were instrumental in the split. However, senior JD(U) leader Ashok Chaudhary has denied such allegations. "JD(U) has no role in splitting LJP. The LJP MPs themselves have a role in breaking the party. I am not aware of LJP MPs joining JD(U)," Choudhary told India Today.
JD(U) national president RCP Singh said: "It is a well known adage that as you sow, so you reap. Chirag Paswan was heading a party which was with the NDA. Yet, he adopted a stance that damaged it in the assembly polls. This led to a sense of unease within his own party."
Meanwhile, the BJP has distanced themselves from Chirag Paswan. "Now the central leadership will take an appropriate decision on whether to stand with Chirag Paswan or not," BJP national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan told India Today.