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‘For the betterment of Bihar’ — Chirag Paswan promises to support BJP in upcoming by-polls 

Chirag, the son of late union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, says he’s holding negotiations with the BJP for a future alliance. However, he has conditions. 

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Patna: Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) chief Chirag Paswan said Sunday that his party would support the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming by-polls in Bihar.  

“All the decisions I have taken [thus far] are for the betterment of Bihar. We’ve decided to support and campaign for BJP candidates,” Chirag said, announcing his party’s support for BJP candidates for the 3 November by-elections in Mokama and Gopalganj.   

Chirag was speaking to the media a day after his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. 

Although he didn’t reveal details of the meeting, Chirag said his talks with the BJP for a future alliance will continue. 

He further said that he had been holding negotiations with the BJP for a few months now and that he would have another round of talks with both Shah and Prime Minister Modi next month. 

The development comes two months after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his party, the Janata Dal (United), once again dumped the BJP and returned to the Mahagathbandhan — an alliance with the Rashtriya  Janata Dal and the Left. 

For the BJP, the changed political equations in the state make Chirag’s alliance even more crucial — Bihar has 6 per cent Paswan voters who have supported the LJP in the past. It’s this chunk that the BJP hopes to use to counter the caste arithmetic of the RJD-JD(U) in both the upcoming polls and future elections. 


Also Read: How to beat JD(U)-RJD caste maths? BJP to focus on EBCs & Mahadalits, hunt for ‘vibrant’ leader


‘Negotiating for months’

In his media interaction, Chirag said several important BJP leaders, including Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, had been holding negotiations with him for a few months now.  

Chirag’s relationship with the BJP has seen its share of ups and downs. He pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance just ahead of assembly elections in 2020 citing his feud with Nitish Kumar.  

In June 2021, his Union minister uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras staged a coup within the party, installing himself as the leader of the LJP’s legislature party in Parliament. Chirag expelled his uncle Paras and five other Members of Parliament for anti-party activities and warned the BJP that any future talks of an alliance will happen on the condition of his uncle being removed as a union minister.       

On Friday, BJP’s Bihar president announced that Chirag will campaign for their party in the 3 November by-elections. 

Despite these pronouncements, however, LJP (Ram Vilas)’s leaders told ThePrint they are yet unaware of the development. 

“We have no information about what Jaiswal is saying. Whatever talks are happening must be in Delhi and Chirag Paswan will reveal it himself when he comes to Patna,”  Bihar’s LJP (Ram Vilas) chief Raju Tiwari told The Print. 

For the Bihar BJP, the announcement has come as a relief — the party had expected Chirag to arrive in Patna on 29 October to make the announcement. But his delayed arrival had the state’s BJP leaders worried.  “It was a relief that Chirag arrived today and confirmed Jaiswal’s announcement,” a BJP leader said. 

Preconditions

Despite the announcement, however, Chirag’s made it clear that his return to the alliance will come at a price. Sources close to him told ThePrint that any future alliance between the two parties rests on two conditions. 

“First is the ouster of his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras from the Union ministry,” a close aide of Chirag said. “Shah ji is asking Chirag to merge his party with his uncle’s LJP.” 

The second condition is that the BJP will have no dealings with Nitish Kumar — whom Chirag blames for last year’s split in his father’s party, the Lok Janshakti Party — in the future, the leader’s associate told ThePrint. 

Chirag, the source said, was still wary of the way the BJP stood watching as the JD (U) “played a role” in splitting the LJP last year.  

The party also resents how Paras was made a Union minister instead of Chirag and the manner in which the BJP ignored Chirag’s claim to the Rajya Sabha seat that was vacated after his father, the late Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, died in 2020, the source in LJP (Ram Vilas) said. 

Courting Chirag

In the late 90s, the late Ram Vilas Paswan cemented his position as kingmaker in both national and Bihar politics. His position also strengthened his command over his castemen — the Paswans, a sub-caste among Dalits.       

Dalits account for 16 per cent of Bihar’s population, and Paswans account for a significant chunk of those. 

“There’s not a single parliamentary seat that does not have at least 50,000 [Paswan] voters and [not a single]  assembly seat [with] at least 10,000,” BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel told ThePrint. 

The two assembly seats that will vote on 3 November also have a considerable number of Paswan voters. According to a JD (U) MLA, Gopalganj is estimated to have 15,000 Paswan voters while Mokama has 18,000 voters.  

In 2020, after Chirag pulled out of the NDA, he fielded several LJP candidates against the JD (U) and although his party won only one seat, he made a significant dent in the JD(U)s tally, reducing the party to 43 seats. The LJP is believed to have cost the JD(U) as many as 40 seats. 

As long as Nitish Kumar stayed within the NDA’s fold, Chirag was kept out — even though the BJP never completely severed its ties, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi frequently referring to the late Ram Vilas as a colleague he missed.

But Nitish Kumar’s exit from the NDA has made BJP eager to solicit Chirag’s support, a source in the LJP (Ram Vilas) said. 

Chirag has proved he was his father’s true heir — his party, the LJP (Ram Vilas), got more votes than the Congress in the Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan by-polls held last year.  He has also frequently proved to be a crowd-puller.  

Meanwhile, his uncle Pashupati Nath Paras was heckled when he visited his parliamentary constituency Hajipur after last year’s split. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


Also Read: Why Nitish Kumar is Congress’ best bet for 2024 elections, despite a predictable outcome


 

 

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