By Gyan Pathak
Revolt in Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has signaled a churning in Bihar politics the final outcome of which may not only impact the political fortunes of the party but also of the BJP and JD(U) individually and NDA as a whole, which may also present an opportunity to the RJD led opposition to play some deft political moves of regional importance in Bihar and Jharkhand as well as national significance.
After leading the revolt in LJP, and becoming leader of the parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha, MP from Hajipur in Bihar, Pasupati Kumar Paras has said that leaving NDA during the Vidhan Sabha election in the state last year was a wrong decision. It is a clear signal that the split up group may soon join NDA. However, it is a common knowledge in the political corridors that a politics of dominance is already being played both by the BJP and JD(U) leaderships within the NDA to cut one another to size. Thus, both the BJP and JD(U) will be forced to adopt certain attitude of their own regarding entrance of the splinter LJP group into NDA fold.
Four other MPs – Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Qaisar from Khagaria, Chandan Kumar from Nawada, Veena Devi from Vaishali, and Prince Raj from Samastipur – had went to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in the evening of June 13, 2021 and again next morning to convey about their decision of electing Pashupati their leader and Qaiser deputy leader in the house. Thus the split up group consists of five MPs who revolted against the sixth – Chirag Paswan who is the national president of LJP.
To understand the split a little better it may be noted here that Chirag Paswan is son of late Ram Vilas Paswan who had formed LJP in 2000. Pashupati is the brother and Prince is nephew of Ram Vilas Paswan. Thus the present split has also a dynastic element in it. Chirag’s uncle and cousin have reportedly felt of not being given due weightage in the party and in the family relationship. They have clearly some personal grudge against Chirag.
So be it, but it will have great political ramifications too in Bihar politics where the LJP has considerable base. In Lok Sabha election 2019, LJP was successful in winning six seats and 8.02 per cent of votes. Support base of the party has however reduced to 5.66 per cent in the Bihar assembly election of October-November 2020 even when the party had broken away from NDA. Chirag strongly criticised Nitish Kumar and his JD(U) while claiming all along during election that LJP would work with the BJP. There was a feeling among many people in the state that the BJP was playing a game to cut Nitish in size through Chirag, and if he win sufficient number of seats, BJP could even ditch Nitish. However, it was destined otherwise. LJP won only one seat, and the lone MLA even deserted the party to join JD(U).
Nevertheless, the BJP emerged as the second largest party winning 74 Vidhan Sabha seats with 19.46 per cent of votes. JD(U) could win only 43 seats with only 15.39 per cent of votes. It may be recalled that both the BJP and JD(U) were sliding a downhill at that time who considerably lost their vote share from 24.06 and 22.26 just one year ago in 2019 Lok Sabha election winning 17 and 16 seats respectively.
Importance of the development in the LJP in relation to opposition political parties in the state is also of immense value because they have been emerging stronger. The RJD, which got zero seats with 15.36 per cent of votes in 2019 Lok Sabha election, emerged as the largest political party in 2020 Vidhan Sabha election by winning 75 seats and 23.11 percent of votes. INC has also been able to increase its share of votes from 7.85 to 9.48 in these two election respectively. With upward graph, the opposition may find an opportunity to take advantage of downward graph of LJP, BJP, and JD(U). With split in LJP, it’s support base will certainly be divided among the two splinter groups, the BJP, the JD(U), and the opposition. It may also skew the political fortunes in Jharkhand due to realignment of the political parties where LJP, JD(U), and RJD had about 4 per cent of votes all together, especially when winnowing margins were thin.
Keeping all these in view, the BJP and the JD(U) are keeping their cards close to their heart. As for Chirag, he still wants to work with the BJP but not with Nitish Kumar. The splinter group led by Pashupati wants to take benefit both in Bihar and at the centre, that is why they are praising both. They had expressed their confidence in the ‘Vikash Purush’ Nitish Kumar and also PM Narendra Modi led NDA.
Though the next general elections are 3 years away in 2024, BJP is most likely to derive maximum benefit from the split in LJP if it happens as a result of no compromise in the infight. Pashupati has hardened his groups stance by saying, “Some anti-social elements entered our party and, rejecting the feelings of 99 per cent workers, broke the alliance with the NDA… The result of this was that in Bihar, the NDA alliance was weakened, and the party almost became extinct.” However, he has said that he had “no complaint” against Chirag, saying “Chirag Paswan is a member of my family, is my nephew, and until now the national president of the party.”
On the other hand, Chirag is trying his best for a compromise. He, along with another leader of the party, even went to see his uncle Pashupati and cousin Prince, but left without meeting them because they were reportedly not in their home. Chirag has offered a change in the party leadership by suggesting his mother’s name Reena Paswan. The JD(U) has called the developments an “internal matter” of the party, while the BJP has avoided commenting on it by adopting wait and watch policy until the final outcome of the infighting. (IPA Service)