Though Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has reason to smile over the latest development within the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)—and many political observers are seeing his hands in it—the truth is that he is directly not going to be benefited by any rumbling in the third constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
In the number game the Janata Dal-United is not going to gain anything as the LJP has no MLA in Bihar Assembly. In the state election held last Oct-Nov the LJP, which contested alone in 137 out of 243 seats, could win in only one of them. And that too single legislator had crossed over to the Janata Dal-United a few months after the election.
So if five out of six MPs of the LJP, under the leadership of Pashupati Kumar Paras, the younger brother of former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, brought about a coup in the party and isolated its president, Chirag Paswan, the bargaining position of the Bihar chief minister is not going to improve at all.
Though Nitish would certainly like to take credit for it as Chirag’s action had greatly damaged his party which ended up with just 43 seats though it contested on 122.
Paras, not a great initiator of political move on his own, may have done so at the hint from some other direction. The Janata Dal-United, as the media is claiming, has used its own connection to create a division between uncle Paras and nephew Chirag, but behind the scene it is the BJP which is playing the main role, as the saffron party had a long-term agenda over Dalit votes at the national level. Mind it, Punjab and UP, the two states with huge Dalit population, are going to poll early next year.
As speculation is rife about the expansion of Narendra Modi cabinet the time is ripe to sound holier-than-thou.
It needs to be mentioned that a couple of days back the Janata Dal-United chief, R C P Singh had said that all the constituents of the NDA should be accommodated in the Union cabinet. Janata Dal-United with 16 MPs in Lok Sabha would certainly like to get more ministerial berths than the LJP. At present, it has no representation in the Union cabinet. Here it needs to be mentioned that the BJP, as successor to Ram Vilas Paswan, may want to induct more pliable Paras in the Cabinet than Chirag.
It is not that Chirag is against the BJP, but he can no more be trusted after last year’s Assembly poll when he not only damaged Nitish’s party but also the saffron brigade.
Against the wrong perception created by a section of media on the eve of last year’s Assembly election that Chirag was working at the instance of Union home minister Amit Shah, the true story is that after the prolong illness and subsequent death of his father Ram Vilas Paswan on October 8 last, he has been playing a double game on his own.
Chirag wanted to sound in such a way as if he was playing into the hands of some top leaders of the BJP to cut the stature of Nitish. No doubt the BJP wanted Nitish to be cut to size, but not so much that he is finished and the opposition Grand Alliance wins. The BJP then was not in position to antagonise Chirag as his father had just died; besides it wanted the vote of Dalits.
It is other thing that Chirag’s move damaged the prospect of Janata Dal-United more than the BJP. While the former won 43 seats, the latter got 74 seats—one less than RJD’s 75.
The LJP’s decision to go alone against more Janata Dal-United candidates than the BJP surely affected the former more. But it should not be forgotten that the LJP had allured about two dozen leaders of the saffron brigade and generously gave ticket to several of them.
They included Rajendra Singh, an old RSS preacher of considerable standing and the BJP’s likely CM face in 2015 Assembly election when Nitish was with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and Congress.
Apart from Rajendra Singh the LJP gave ticket to Rameshwar Chaurasia, another seasoned Sangh Parivar campaigner. It is other thing that both lost to the Grand Alliance candidate.
All these RSS and BJP leaders left the party and joined the LJP following their serious differences with the then deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi.
Chirag then was sailing on two boats. Though he was in the NDA and hailing Narendra Modi as his leader yet privately he was supporting the Grand Alliance candidates without having any secret pre-poll deal.
As he had read the mood of the people and felt that RJD’s Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is in a position to challenge and may emerge victorious, Chirag in between wanted to send positive signal to the Grand Alliance. It needs to be reminded that LJP didn’t field its candidate against Tejashwi in Raghopur. The June 14 development in LJP can be read in that background as both the Janata Dal-United and BJP got an opportunity to settle score with Chirag. It is to be seen as to how long he alone continues to remain a leading light of a party formed by his father in the name of Dalits two decades back.
Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna. Views are personal.