The battle lines have been drawn in the eastern state of Bihar and with the election dates not even a month away, the political slugfest is about to get heated. While Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD looks like a lost cause, the current alliance in power NDA is staring at bitter infighting between an old guard and a rising young talent. Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and its national President, Chirag Paswan has given indications that he will not back down from the seat-sharing arrangement proposed by him and his party, and consequently, the coming week or two could be a ‘make or break’ scenario for the alliance.
In early September, the parliamentary board of LJP had told Chirag Paswan that it wanted to contest on 143 of the total 243 seats in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections. And it looks like Chirag is adamant on his demand which has not been well-received by Nitish Kumar’s JDU. Paswan had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda to sort out the issue but no major headways could be made in the meeting. The LJP central Parliament Board headed by Paswan is expected to meet today and decide the future course of action.
Chirag Paswan has held back no punches when it has come to cornering JDU and Nitish Kumar. He has constantly brought up the issue of the murder of Dalits in the last 15 years in the state and how the current regime hasn’t been able to provide jobs to the kin of the murdered.
— ABP News (@ABPNews) September 7, 2020
LJP President Mr. Chirag Paswan raised finger about jumla politics against NDA C.M. Nitish Kumar. He is first NDA Leader who opposed this type of cast politics. pic.twitter.com/7EiJhdtlDU
— Adv Jayram Sharma (@advJayram) September 7, 2020
The friction between the two factions has been out in the open for everybody to see but the political tussle is now going on a new level with voices coming from the NDA fold that Chirag Paswan be projected as the next big thing, literally meaning, Paswan should be the CM candidate.
The war of word intensified on Friday when LJP state spokesperson Shravan Aggarwal accused CM Nitish Kumar of corruption in one of its ambitious plan to storm back into power.
With the Bihar elections in mind, last week, Kumar had unveiled the ‘Saath Nischay Part 2’ (Seven Resolves Part 2) as a sequel to the seven-point agenda that won him the 2015 elections. The plan focuses on female education, wider access to irrigation, skill-development centres, etc. Shravan Kumar has accused Nitish of corruption in the first part of the scheme and consequently wants NDA to follow a common agenda. LJP has already expressed its displeasure in working with Nitish Kumar.
Nitish Kumar who has experience of almost one-and-a half-decade on the top chair of the state has come out as one of the most incompetent leaders amid the Coronavirus pandemic and even before that, his election slogans like “Kyu Karein vichar, thike to hai Nitish Kumar” hasn’t exactly inspired a whole lot of confidence.
The anti-incumbency factor and the fact that the general public has grown tired of Nitish Kumar’s charades could dent BJP’s prospects in the state if it decides to carry on with the alliance.
Kumar sees LJP as a threat and in a desperate counter-measure, has even brought Jitan Ram Manjhi into NDA’s fold to put a brake on Chirag Paswan’s aspirations. Nitish Kumar, whose only aim is to remain seated on CM chair for another 5 years, has tried to strengthen hold on Dalit vote bank by bringing HAM in the alliance as well as corner LJP. He has already overcapitalized the reclassification of some sections of the Dalit population as ‘MahaDalits’ and now the community has started moving to other parties.
The father-son duo led party is a key NDA ally; it contested 6 seats out of 40 in the state in the 2019 general election and won all of them. Chirag Paswan has emerged as one of the most popular youth leaders of the state, with appeal cutting across the caste lines, in a state which is entrenched in caste politics, while the neighboring UP opted for a change and voted for Hindutva.
LJP’s transition from Ram Vilas Paswan to Chirag Paswan has been flawless. The deep-baritone Chirag Paswan has turned the party on its head and LJP no longer relies on the caste politics alone. Paswan is not afraid to speak his mind on the injustices in the Bihar political system under Nitish and that makes him one of the sharp and shrewd politicians around.
LJP is steadily projecting Chirag Paswan as a viable alternative to Nitish’s insipid regime. The JDU leader, because of the TINA (there is no alternative) factor has been complacent about his chances and consequently has not even been making attempts to woo the voters. His body-language looks timid and it seems like the ‘Sushasan Babu’ is going through the motions.
Chirag Paswan–the Son has risen on the political horizon of Bihar and he is one of the very few leaders in the state that has shown some promise to usher the raggedy state of Bihar into the mainstream.