Will Chirag’s ambition to increase the foothold of LJP work?
As we move ahead with our political journey of Bihar election in Kaam Ki Baat segment, let’s look at the possibilities of Chirag Paswan and his party Lok Janshakti Party. Chirag Paswan, the young face in the Bihar politics has been a talking point since it decided to quit NDA and field candidates against JDU in Bihar Assembly election 2020. He has maintained that he is not against BJP but against the CM Nitish Kumar and his party JDU. It is not certain if the LJP is with NDA in Delhi or not, but there are rumours that LJP has been fielded separately to weaken Nitish Kumar.
Chirag Paswan after becoming the President of LJP has not left opportunities to make news. He has also tried to establish himself a pure Bihari by raising the slogan of “Bihar First, Bihari First.” Even his Twitter handle says, “Yuva Bihari Chirag Paswan.” He needed to work on his Bihari image because his mother is a Punjabi. His detractors used to say that he is a “Delhi- Chhap” leader. Chirag understood the call for a makeover and worked on his Bihari image.
Like his competitor -Tejashwi Yadav, politics was not Chirag’s first love. He wanted to be an actor and even tried hands there. But after failing in his first attempt he came back to his father’s Lok Jan Shakti Party for fulfilling political aspirations. Tejashwi fancied his chance as a cricketer but failed there and came back to politics. Both the young leaders of Bihar are basically accidental politicians.
It is important to note that both arithmetic and chemistry are important in elections. While Chirag seems to understand the arithmetic, he seems a little amateur when it comes to understanding the chemistry of Bihar politics. Unlike the numbers, it is difficult to decode the chemistry of politics in Bihar. There have been very few leaders who can claim to understand the chemistry of Bihar. While Lalu Prasad Yadav mastered both the chemistry and arithmetic, Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan too learnt this chemistry through trial and error.
Chirag’s role in BJP election
Chirag Paswan is expecting a wave of sympathy for him in the wake of the death of his father, Ram Vilas Paswan, especially from his fellow Dusadh community. Looking at the psyche of voters in Bihar and role of caste sentiment, his expectations don’t seem too much. However, various opinion polls have predicted that he is not going to get more than 9 seats in the election. Some have predicted as low as 3 seats in the Assembly elections because of a three-way fight between JDU, Mahagathbandhan and LJP.
Opinion polls are hardly correct, so it is not clear how many seats Lok Janshakti Party is going to win with the strategy of going against JDU and not against BJP. Political pundits have predicted that LJP’s core voter base can cause severe damage to JDU candidates in the rural central, south and north Bihar constituencies, where Dusadhs (Paswans) have a sizeable presence.
The question which many political experts are thinking is that if Paswan has decided to play proxy to BJP just to weaken Nitish Kumar, what are the positives for LJP? What are they going to gain after the elections, what would be the roadmap for their party?
When looked closer at these questions, one can observe that Chirag’s rebellion is rooted more in the manner in which Nitish Kumar has treated his party in the last 15 years. LJP supporters say that Nitish used the Machiavellian way to break the backbone of LJP since he became the CM of Bihar in 2005.
Ram Vilas Paswan, known as the weatherman of Indian politics understood Nitish’s designs. While passing his party’s baton to his son Chirag, the senior Paswan taught his son that it was harmful for his and the LJP’s future to operate in Nitish’s company. Now, that the senior Paswan is no more, the junior Paswan is following the footsteps of his father by exiting the NDA but choosing to stay with the BJP.
A voter of Hajipur constituency, LJP’s bastion MP seat in Bihar said that “Ram Vilas Paswan had gifted many things in Hajipur including an East Central Railway zonal office and Hotel Management College. Now that he is gone, we are counting on Chirag Paswan to do something good for Bihar. He seems like an educated leader but lacks connection with us. He has the potential to become the CM of Bihar in future.”
Chirag might be seeing a brighter future for his LJP, with the weakening of Nitish. The incumbent CM Nitish Kumar has lost the goodwill he had with masses and there is a serious anti-incumbency against him. While his party directly depends on the popularity of PM Modi, Chirag’s party too seeks to use the Modi factor indirectly.
Chirag has been professing his loyalty towards Prime Minister Modi and calling himself the ‘Hanuman’ of Modi. He brushed aside the criticism of BJP and said that he was open for accepting harsh words from BJP because it wants to stay true to its responsibility of being a true alliance partner.
Pramod Paswan, a Hajipur voter said, “LJP is using Narendra Modi and BJP to gain votes. I think they have a chance of winning up to 10 seats if Chirag does more rally and reaches mass.”
What’s in future for Chirag Paswan?
With ageing Nitish Kumar and no young mass face for BJP, Chirag’s immediate and apparent political rival is RJD’s president Tejashwi Prasad. While Lalu Prasad Yadav is still there to baby walk his youngest son, Chirag lost his weatherman father to give him crisis solutions. Tejashwi also enjoys three distinct advantage over Chirag – presence of Lalu Prasad Yadav, larger and stronger caste base in Bihar and the advantage of administrative experience as the Deputy CM of Bihar for two years between 2015 to 2017.
The upcoming Bihar Assembly Election is going to be a test of his Lok Janshakti Party’s survival in the absence of the party’s founder, Ram Vilas Paswan. Chirag needs to do very well in the election and engineer a separation between JDU and BJP in the treacherous minefield of politics in Bihar. If he fails, it is going to be very tough for him to survive, especially in the presence of other budding politicians, Kanhaiya Kumar and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.
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Chirag Paswan has also developed an image of Mr Right
Chirag is becoming the mascot of right-wing politics in Bihar by ditching the secular image of his father Ram Vilas Paswan. Chirag has supported all the contentious issues like Article 370, construction of Ram Mandir and Triple Talaq- every spot where Nitish deviated from the Bhartiya Janata Party’s line. The LJP President also doesn’t shy away from remembering Hindu gods. Recently he called himself the Hanuman of PM Modi and even said he could cut open his chest to show that PM Modi resides in his heart.
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