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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Union Minister Resigns Amid BJP’s Deal with Chirag Paswan’s Party

Union Minister Pashupati Paras announced his resignation Tuesday morning and withdrew his Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party from the BJP-led national alliance. This comes a day after the BJP confirmed a seat-share deal with the Lok Janshakti Party of Mr Paras’ nephew, Chirag Paswan.

The BJP-LJP deal – part of a broader arrangement within Bihar for next month’s Lok Sabha election – sees Mr Paras’ party completely sidelined; the RLJP was given zero seats while Mr Paswan’s LJP was allotted five, including the Hajipur constituency won by his uncle in the 2019 election.

“The NDA (the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) deal has been announced. I am grateful to the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). My party and I faced injustice. So I am resigning as minister.”

Mr Paras was non-committal on talk of a deal with the opposition – either with the state-level Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance or with national-level INDIA bloc led by the Congress.

He has, however, already confirmed his RLJP will contest the Hajipur seat.

Last week – amid reports the BJP had finished its Bihar deals, and that he had been frozen out – Mr Paras said his RLJP and its five MPs, including himself, would contest the seats they won in the last election and the party itself is “free to go anywhere”, leading to talk of a deal within the opposition.

Mr Paras won Hajipur five years ago as a member of the then-undivided Lok Janshakti Party. It was led then by party founder and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who was Chirag Paswan’s father.

The elder Paswan – who died in October 2020 – was an eight-time MP from Hajipur, which has never been won by the BJP.

That the national party has opted to side with the faction of the LJP led by Chirag Paswan underlines the belief that he now has complete command over the community vote.

The Paswans account for around six per cent of the voting population in Bihar.

The only problem for the BJP could be that Mr Paswan and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) – the other major partner in the state alliance – don’t really get along.

The Chief Minister holds the LJP responsible for his party’s poor showing in the 2020 Assembly election, in which the JDU contested 115 seats but won only 43. This was after Mr Paras split the LJP, control of which was being contested by himself and Chirag Paswan after Ram Vilas Paswan’s death.

That split was allegedly backed by the BJP and, as a result, the younger Paswan contested the state election on his own and split the votes, with some community strongholds going to the BJP.

The result was the BJP won nearly twice as many seats.

This time, the BJP is set to contest more than half of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats – a clear sign it now has the upper hand in its relationship with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).

The party has retained 17 seats and given the JDU 16; in 2019 the two contested 17 seats each and the LJP (led then by Ram Vilas Paswan) contested (and won) the rest. The BJP also returned a 100 per cent strike rate. The JDU lost just the one seat – Kishanganj went to the Congress.

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(Source: NDTV)

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