NEW DELHI: The infighting in Lok Janshakti Party took an ugly turn on Tuesday as the two warring factions, one led by Chirag Paswan and the other by his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, acted against each other in a bid to take control of the party.
A day after unseating Chirag Paswan as LJP leader in Lok Sabha in an overnight coup, the rebel camp headed by Pashupati Paras moved swiftly to consolidate its hold and removed Paswan as party chief.
The decision was taken at a meeting of five LJP MPs at the residence of Pashupati Paras in the national capital.
Chirag, who had made an unsuccessful bid at rapprochement with his uncle on Monday, retaliated with the expulsion of all the five rebel MPs from the primary membership of the party.
A resolution to this effect was passed in a virtual meeting of the party’s national executive committee.
“The national executive committee has unanimously decided to remove Pashupati Kumar Paras, Beena Devi, Chandan Singh, Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser and Prince Raj from the primary membership of LJP with immediate effect,” said the resolution signed by LJP general secretary Abdul Khaliq said.
The resolution further said that “The national president of LJP Chirag Paswan is authorised to take all decisions in the coming assembly elections on behalf of the party.”
41 of 76 members were present, its Bihar unit working president Raju Tiwari said.
Meanwhile, supporters of Chirag Paswan smeared black ink on the posters of five LJP MLAs outside the party’s office in Patna.
‘Party like a mother, should not be betrayed’
Earlier today, in an emotional reaction to the developments, Chirag said that he made efforts to keep the party, founded by his father Ram Vilas Paswan, and his family together, but failed.
The LJP was founded by late Ram Vilas Paswan in 2000 and played a key role in Bihar politics for over two decades.
The mantle of the party passed over to Chirag after the death of Ram Vilas Paswan last year.
पापा की बनाई इस पार्टी और अपने परिवार को साथ रखने के लिए किए मैंने प्रयास किया लेकिन असफल रहा।पार्टी माँ के समान है… https://t.co/F7w9oK4d8h
— युवा बिहारी चिराग पासवान (@iChiragPaswan) 1623751937000
“I tried but failed to keep this party intact which was made by my father and my family. Party is like a mother and the mother should not be cheated. In a democracy, the public is paramount. I thank the people who have kept faith in the party,” tweeted Chirag Paswan in Hindi.
Chirag also shared a letter he had written to Paras, the youngest brother of his father, in March in which he had highlighted his uncle’s unhappiness over a number of issues, including his elevation as the party president.
‘Chirag lacks experience’
LJP MP Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser, who is part of the group that revolted against Chirag, claimed that late Ram Vilas Paswan’s son was replaced as he lacked experience.
Briefing mediapersons, Kaiser said, “Chirag made a big blunder in Bihar elections. While remaining in NDA he worked against the JD(U), which is a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre. That is why we decided to change the leadership. Chirag lacks experience so we supported Pashupati Kumar Paras.”
Asserting that there is no rift within the party, Kaiser said, “Chirag was unable to catch the pulse of Bihar’s politics and made a big mistake, for which he and the entire party had to bear the brunt. Our best wishes are with Chirag Paswan so that he is able to move forward after dealing with this situation and become a big leader. There is no rift in the LJP.”
‘JD(U) leader not behind rift in LJP’
The LJP rebels have denied any role of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in precipitating the current crisis in the party.
Chirag Paswan had led a very aggressive anti-Nitish Kumar campaign in the last assembly elections in Bihar and in the process dealt a heavy political blow to the ruling Janta Dal (United).
For the first time in decades, Nitish Kumar emerged as the junior partner to the BJP in Bihar NDA. Naturally, the revolt against Chirag comes as a sweet revenge for the JD(U), which yesterday in a dig at the LJP chief said “you reap what you sow.”
Asked if JD(U) leader Lalan Singh, a close aide of the Bihar chief minister was behind the rift, LJP MP Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser said, “There is no rift in the party at the behest of Lalan Singh. We met Lalan Singh at Veena Singh’s house. We want Chirag Paswan to be with us. Who will be the next president of LJP will be decided in the meeting of the National Executive.”
But the big question is “Will Chirag survive this revolt?”
Chirag Paswan is expected to address a press conference on Wednesday, with the battle for the control of the party likely to reach the Election Commission soon.
While he has been isolated in the parliamentary party, it remains to be seen how much of support he still has in the organisation. That possibly would decide his fate in this LJP versus LJP fight.
(With inputs from agencies)
Watch LJP turmoil: Chirag Paswan expels 5 MPs as rebels remove him as party chief