THE Bharatiya Janata Party appears to be in a catch 22 situation on the issue of Chirag Paswan. BJP knows it well that the saffron party stands to lose if Chirag switches sides. Being a young leader and son of former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, he stands a better chance of acceptability within the vote bank of the LJP as compared to his uncle Pashipati Paras.
Chirag may have been pushed to the wall by his uncle Pashupati Paras who left him hamstrung by taking 5 of the 6 party MPs with him. The young leader must be in the worst of his political innings as he tries to build from scratch. His uncle may have attended the first death anniversary of Ram Vilas Paswan, but that’s not proof enough that he has buried the hatchet or is even contemplating conceding some concessions to Chirag.
The Central leadership of the BJP made Pashupati Paras a minister despite the opposition from Chirag Paswan. The decision was probably guided by considerations of appeasement of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
In what may be seen as a retaliatory move, Chirag planned the first death anniversary of his father, which turned into an event with obvious political considerations. He made it an issue that he wanted to invite ‘Chacha’ Nitish Kumar but the latter denied meeting him.
Chirag then checkmate the BJP and paid a visit to Tejashwi Yadav and later Lalu Prasad Yadav. The message was sent aloud that Chirag had his options open. Besides, this visit was analysed in the context of a recent remark by Lalu Prasad Yadav being all praises for Chirag and at the same time expressing that Tejashwi and Chirag should come together to stop the saffron brigade.
So, while Tejashwi was candid to accept that Lalu ji wanted the two young leaders to come together, Chirag skirted the issue. Obviously, Chirag did not want to open his cards. It was widely being construed as a pressure-building measure on his part and it worked wonders for him.
BJP leader and minister in Nitish Cabinet, Neeraj Kumar Babloo, was quick to say that Chirag Paswan was a part of the NDA and would remain a part of the alliance. He rubbished his meets with Tejashwi Yadav or Lalu Prasad Yadav. The statement is being analysed as an attempt on part of BJP to keep Chirag Paswan from joining the Mahagathbandhan.
Political analyst Professor Naval Kishore Chaudhary said, “The BJP wants to have laddoo in both the hands. Why would they allow Chirag to walk away from the NDA while not being sure which way will the LJP voters go?”
Immediately, after the statements of minister Neeraj Babloo there was a strong retaliation from the JDU. The BJP got the message rather quick and the very next day the state president of the BJP Sanjay Jaiswal went for the course correction. “LJP is a part of the NDA,” he said.
He mentioned Pashupati Paras being a minister but chose to refrain from making any comments on the relations with Chirag Paswan. This appears to be a catch 22 situation for the BJP. The BJP can’t alienate Nitish Kumar by siding with Chirag and can’t loose Chirag just for the sake of Nitish.