Leaders across party lines stood in attendance as the mortal remains of Ram Vilas Paswan were consigned to the flames. The Bihar police contingent rested its arms on the reverse and Chirag Paswan stepped forward to light the pyre.
Also milling around with mourners that evening at Patna’s Digha ghat was Paswan’s younger sibling Pashupati Paras. The Hajipur MP, seeking to find his own space in the melee of who’s who in Bihar politics quietly went about greeting people with folded hands. “Bhaiya Chale gaye, par aap mujhe mat chodiyega. Parivar to santh lekar age badhenge”. (My brother has left us, do bless us with your support in the future as well. We will take everyone in the family along.)
A lot of water has since flowed down the Ganges since the demise of the Lok Janshakti Party founder. The protracted battle for the ownership of LJP’s bungalow dragged before the Election Commission and courts thereafter. The fight for political legacy will be settled in the electoral battles. The next face-off between Chirag and Paras will happen not before 2024.
For now, it seems, the uncle has got the better of his nephew. Paras and Prince have done what Shivpal Yadav couldn’t. Infact, the self-effacing, low profile uncle has engineered a successful coup un-like any of his contemporaries. In fratricidal war for power, very few have been able to dislodge the proclaimed and established heir to a political legacy. Not Shivpal Yadav. Not Manpreet Badal when he took on his cousin Sukhbir. Not Raj Thackeray in the contest for the ownership of Sena in Maharashtra. Not Harish Rao in Telangana.
As for the NCP, the jury is still out. In an interview a few years back, Sharad Pawar was asked this question. People will decide, was his terse response. If anything, the NCP chief has consolidated his position over the party by forging together ideologically disparate blocks. The prize for having pulled off perhaps one of the most difficult political coups goes to N Chandrababu Naidu.
Naidu’s masterclass stands cut above the rest of his contemporaries on many counts. His father-in-law NT Rama Rao was not a pushover. A matinee star who swept aside the might of the Congress in undivided Andhra Pradesh. NTR had survived a coup in his first tenure, marshalling his MLAs from a hospital bed in the United States where he had gone for health reasons. Naidu’s task was thus cut out. Though there were murmurs of discontent within against the growing influence of NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi, to mobilise 150 odd MLAs against the sitting chief minister was a stiff task.
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Tactically speaking, Pashupati Paras’ revolt against the nephew is time to perfection. Politics is for power. And nothing but power legitimizes political legacy. The younger brother struck when there was a possibility of cabinet expansion at the center. After the Bengal debacle, BJP wants to accommodate allies. Nitish Kumar was already cut up with Chirag for the role played by the former ally in damaging JD(U) during Bihar polls.
If you are not in power, it is important to muster support from those who can make are mar things. Paras did precisely that.
There are two components to a political party- legislative and organizational. He has seized control of the legislative wing. The battle for the organization and the symbol will be contested before the Election Commission and later in the court of law.
There are no prospects of facing any elections in Bihar- at-least in the foreseeable future. Bihar will see the next elections in 2024.
Pashupathi Paras knows nothing succeeds in politics like success. Power is a nectar which attracts all and sundry.
No one except Ram Vilas Paswan has been a minister from the LJP quota at the center since the formation of the party.
If Paras manages to book a slot for himself in the union council of ministers, he will be stepping into his elder brother’s shoes.
It will be a mark of acceptance and acknowledgement from the political peerage.