PATNA, Oct 30: In a shot in the arm for the BJP in Bihar, Chirag Paswan on Sunday cast aside his ambivalence and announced that he will campaign for the saffron party in by-polls to two assembly segments in the state.
Paswan, who heads a splinter group of the Lok Janshakti Party founded by his late father Ram Vilas Paswan, was talking to reporters at the airport here upon his arrival from Delhi.
The 39-year-old MP from Jamui went into a huddle with party colleagues soon after landing before telling journalists “Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) will campaign for the BJP in the by-elections to Mokama and Gopalganj. The decision has been taken after a long meeting Saturday night with Union home minister Amit Shah with whom I have been in touch for quite some time”.
Paswan ducked queries as to whether he had given up the insistence on expulsion from NDA of his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, whose rebellion last year had caused a split in the party founded by his father.
“I am right now speaking only about the by-elections for Mokama and Gopalganj. It took a long time for us to arrive at a decision. Only two days are left before the campaign comes to an end. Our party will do its best to ensure the victory of the BJP candidates”, said Paswan.
There have been speculations that Paswan, whose father held a berth in the Union Council of Ministers till his death, may also be considered for the same in the next reshuffle in a bid to assuage the humiliation he felt upon Paras entering the cabinet after splitting LJP.
Paswan did not make any direct reference to any “reward” that may be waiting for him but dropped some hints saying “there were a number of points that I discussed with Shah. A meeting with him and our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled next month”.
He also continued with his diatribe against Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) has been alleging that “Chirag model” was used by the BJP to weaken it in the 2020 assembly polls.
“I have always believed that Nitish Kumar does not have the vision to pull my home state out of the morass of backwardness. His ‘saat nishchay’ programme is an eyewash. Basic necessities like piped water and pucca roads cannot be held up as an indicator of progress”, said Paswan, who, then as the president of the undivided LJP, had caused JD(U)’s tally to plummet by fielding candidates, many of them BJP rebels, in the assembly polls.
“I strongly believe that Bihar needs to think big. We must work towards becoming a hub of education and development in the IT sector. This was my Bihar First Bihari First vision which has always been held in contempt by the chief minister and his party. I cannot do anything that facilitates his stay in power”, said Paswan.
After the split in the LJP, a large part of the party’s rank and file had sided with Paras but Chirag Paswan evidently seemed to enjoy the support of the masses who were sympathetic towards him over having lost his father and the party in quick succession.
His support to the BJP, facing a stiff contest from the resurgent, and now in power, RJD in both assembly seats, brings the promise of a sizeable chunk of Dalit votes, especially of the assertive and numerically strong “Dusadhs”.
The by-elections are being seen as the first test of strength for the BJP, which has been weakened with the exit from NDA of Nitish Kumar two months ago, and the “Mahagathbandhan” comprising RJD, Congress and Left which he joined subsequently. (PTI)