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Opinion

Chirag Paswan Ouster: Did BJP Engineer Split in LJP?

Chirag Paswan contested the 2020 assembly polls in Bihar with the sole intent of inflicting maximum damage to the JDU and as such while Chirag kept praising PM Modi and even his photographs with the PM were used during campaigning.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan arrives to meet party leader Pashupati Kumar Paras at his house, in New Delhi (Photo Credit: PTI)

Chirag Paswan has been elbowed out and the reign of the LJP has been grabbed by uncle Pashupati Paras. Of the 6 MPs of the LJP 5 have already pledged their support to Pasupati Paras and that leaves Chirag Paswan with no option except to lick his wounds. The JD(U) says that he reaped what he sowed. The split within the LJP now puts to rest speculations of a possible BJP and JDU rift getting wider. So has this split and the marginalisation of Chirag Paswan been engineered by the BJP and the JDU?

The JDU in recent times had assumed much adamant posturing within the NDA and the message being sent aloud was clear to the BJP. Nitish Kumar had been sulking from the day Chirag Paswan had decided to field candidates against the JDU candidates and not against the BJP candidates after walking out of the fold of the NDA. Chirag contested the 2020 assembly polls in Bihar with the sole intent of inflicting maximum damage to the JDU and as such while Chirag kept praising PM Modi and even his photographs with the PM were used during campaigning. The strategy worked for Chirag and it drastically brought down the prospects of the JDU and it reduced it to the third position. But LJP’s mission of Bihar first and Bihari first also proved to be a non-starter. The BJP emerged far ahead of the JDU and yet the party went by its pre poll commitment and ushered Nitish in the CM’s chair.

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However, many leaders within the BJP kept asserting that they were the largest party and yet they honoured their commitment and made Nitish the CM. This was like an insult to injury. In the last couple of weeks tension kept brewing within the NDA with BJP and the JDU at loggerheads and Jeetan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha became spokesperson for Nitish Kumar. The relations had nosedive to the extent that Jeetan Ram Manjhi went to the extent of tweeting that the Corona death certificates too should have the photographs of the PM.

It’s known fact that Manjhi despite being unceremoniously ousted from the CMs chair by Nitish Kumar started warming up to him once the prospects within the mahagathbandhan started looking bleak and has ever since been very vocal for Nitiah Kumar. Nitish never tried to refrain him from making scathing attacks against the PM. After Lalu got bail the political arena is abuzz with talks that Lalu is working relentlessly to topple the government and that some of the leaders within the JDU, HAM and even in VIP are in touch. This lent credence to the theory that if Nitish finds it stifling within the NDA he may take a U turn again as prospects on the other side of becoming an acceptable fave for the third front appeared brighter.

The BJP however after the Bengal debacle is treading carefully. It knows that Nitish has the option of switching sides and that can leave the party without power in Bihar. Besides this may not augur well for the party in 2024 and as alienating Nitish was unthinkable. But meanwhile statements came from the National president of the JDU regarding inclusion of JDU in the cabinet expansion and RCP Singh made the intent clear by indicating that the party was expecting representation commensurate with the numbers the party had. The BJP appeared to be in a catch 22 situation.

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The BJP did not want to leave out the LJP and inclusion of LJP in the cabinet expansion would have meant alienating Nitish Kumar. It appears that the script to elbow out Chirag Paswan and usher in Pashupati Paras was carefully planned and executed and had tacit understanding of both the JDU and the BJP. The elevation of Pashupati Paras and marginalization of Chirag Paswan just suits the BJP and the JDU as Chirag had emerged as an independent leader. Besides, the LJP has not walked out of the NDA at the center.

While aiming two birds with one stone the BJP is also trying to lay a strong foundation for 2024 and would do everything possible to repeat the 2019 performance. This would be next to impossible without JDU and the LJP to its side as the BJP has the 2015 Bihar assembly results fresh in its mind. Now the stage is all set for next cabinet expansion and the JDU will have no problem if the LJP is accommodated as Pashupati Paras has already showed his allegiance to Nitish Kumar by raining praises for the Bihar CM.

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