Chirag Paswan Meets Amit Shah, Presents Six-Seat Wishlist

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The BJP’s plan to bring Chirag Paswan back into the NDA fold can cost six Lok Sabha seats — one more than his uncle Pashupati Paras currently has. Paswan Junior, who has been isolated after the 2019 assembly elections, placed his demands before Union home minister and the BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah today, sources said. While the BJP response is not known yet, the party has been pushing for a rapprochement between the two factions of Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janashakti Party — currently being led by the uncle and nephew.

The crucial meeting with Paswan Junior took place this afternoon ahead of the mega huddle of the NDA, due on July 18. For tomorrow’s meet, Besides Chirag Paswan, the BJP has also invited Jitan Ram Manjhi, the leader of Ham (Hindustani Awam Morcha) which it managed to pry loose from the Grand Alliance.

For the BJP, which is trying to mop up multiple caste groups to chip away at the voter base of the Grand alliance — a re-unification of the two factions of the LJP is crucial.

The six per cent Paswan voters are apparently backing Chirag Paswan and not his uncle. Without their support, the formula to beat the Maha Gathbandhan’s “Luv-Kush” (Kurmi-Koeri) and “Muslim-Yadav” numbers, is bound to go awry.

It may not be plain sailing for the BJP even if Chirag Paswan’s demands are met.  

Senior leader and Union minister Nityanand Rai’s overtures to Mr Paras has already drawn a blank. Mr Paras, who is the Minister of Food Processing Industries in the Central government, is angling for a seat on which Chirag Paswan has his eye on.

The uncle and nephew are currently caught in a battle over the Hajipur seat — both aiming to claim Ram Vilas Paswan’s legacy.  In his lifetime, the seat was Ram Vilas Paswan. In 2019, Mr Paras won from there and Chirag Paswan from Jamui. Mr Paras now refuses to give up the seat for his nephew.  

In this backdrop, the BJP request for unification got short shrift from Mr Paras.

“He (Nityanand Rai) said uncle, nephew, get together, I said it is not possible. When things go wrong, when the milk curdles, no matter how hard you try, you get no butter,” Pashupati Paras told reporters yesterday.

He also questioned his nephew’s claim to the seat. “Why is that when your father was alive, you were asked to contest from Jamui and not from Hajipur,” he said.

The Bihar chief of LJP’s Chirag Paswan faction indicated that the issue of Hajipur could have been settled. Describing the talks with Mr Shah as ‘positive”, he said, Chirag Paswan has already spoken… Chirag Paswan will contest from Hajipur seat”. Asked about the claims of Mr Paras, he said, “Who is saying what? We don’t care what he is saying”.

Nitish Kumar’s move to break away from the NDA last year and stitching up a Grand Alliance with all parties in Bihar except the two LJP factions, has left the BJP isolated. It had meant an uphill task for the BJP to keep Bihar numbers intact in 2024.

Of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, the NDA won 39 seats — 17 for the BJP and 16 for Nitish Kumar’ JD(U) and 6 for the LJP – in 2019.

The Congress bagged one and Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, which was in the opposition that time, none.

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