Chirag Paswan, who has quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to go solo against JDU’s Nitish Kumar, says it was his father Ram Vilas Paswan who “instigated” him to go it alone in the Bihar assembly elections.
“I had shared my plans and concerns with the BJP leadership, mainly Amit Shah, before announcing my decision, and the Union Home Minister was “silent”, said the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader while speaking to NDTV.
“My father used to instigate me. He used to tell me you must contest alone and that is how the party will strengthen and spread,” Chirag Paswan told NDTV after his father’s death last week.
This is probably the most important phase in Bihar politics after 1974 when youngsters Nitish & Lalu joined JP's movement. Bihar's at a crossroad & just like the 1974 movement had an impact that lasted for almost five decades, this chunaav will decide the course of the next five.
— slickenteur (@slickenteur) October 9, 2020
Chirag said that before fielding candidates against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, he had discussions with Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda. “It’s not that I sat across the table from Amit Shah and was breaking the news to him. I met him once and told him it won’t be possible for him to incorporate me in seat sharing, but would it be possible for him to include my agenda of Bihar First, Bihari First, in NDA agenda. I said if not, allow me to put up my candidates against JDU. He didn’t say anything on it… He was quiet, was listening to it,” said the actor-turned-politician.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the founder of Lok Janshakti Party, which is headed by Chirag Paswan now, died last Thursday after a heart surgery.
BJP leaders have been vocal in saying that late Ram Vilas Paswan would never have endorsed 37-year-old Chirag Paswan’s decision to contest separately from the NDA.
Two-time Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan, however, said it was his father who pushed him towards his decision.
“This was his biggest dream, that the party should contest alone. He told me in 2005 I took the decision. You are young, why are you not taking the decision?”
Chirag named BJP leaders like Minister of State Nityanand Rai and Shahnawaz Husain, who he said, had spoken to Ram Vilas Paswan in the past few months and had known of his wish.
On his father’s death just before a crucial, career-defining election for him, Chirag Paswan said: “To be very honest, right now I was just not prepared. Elections are right there and him not being around… He was my pillar of strength. Just by that virtue I could fight the world. But I will continue to do that. Not that anything has made me weak. I continue to get strength from him…”
The Paswans have a thing against Nitish Kumar because the JDU strong man has been consistently chipping away at their support base (Dalits) over the years.
Many believe the BJP sees the LJP as a good foil to keep Nitish Kumar in check even though the party has openly sided with the Chief Minister.
The LJP is no longer a part of the NDA in Bihar, but Chirag has said he supports the leadership of Narendra Modi.
Bihar will vote on October 28, November 3 and 7. The results on November 10 will show whether Chirag Paswan’s gamble paid off.