With five out of its six MPs (Chirag Paswan himself being the sixth) in the Lok Sabha revolting against him, the country witnessed an overnight coup in the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) on Monday.
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.
According to news agency PTI, Paras was recognised by the Lok Sabha secretariat as the leader of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in the House.
Later, the LJP faction headed by Chirag Paswan on Tuesday expelled the five MPs of the party who had rebelled against him, while the group led by his uncle removed him from the post of the party president.
"A national executive meeting was held & decided to remove all the 5 MPs from the party," said LJP leader Raju Tiwari. When asked if Chirag Paswan was betrayed, Tiwari said, "There is a process of doing things in a party. This will be called a betrayal."
In a tweet, Paswan said he made efforts to keep the party founded by his father Ram Vilas Paswan and his family together but failed. He likened the organization to a mother who should not be "betrayed". People are supreme in a democracy, Paswan said and thanked those who have kept faith in the party. Paswan also shared a letter he had written to Paras in March in which he had highlighted his uncle's unhappiness over a number of issues, including his elevation as the party president.
Who can bring Lok Janshakti Party's infighting to an end?
With both the factions claiming to represent the party, the matter is now likely to reach the Election Commission of India (ECI), reported news agency PTI.
However, Paras on Monday said he has no objection in welcoming his nephew to the party under his (Paras) leadership. He 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.
"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.
On the other hand, even as Chirag Paswan has been isolated in the parliamentary party as all other MPs beside him have backed Paras, sources told PTI that he continues to draw support from other leaders in the organisation.
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.
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