Why BJP Went All Out To Keep Chirag Paswan On Board In Bihar

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Why BJP Went All Out To Keep Chirag Paswan On Board In Bihar

Chirag Paswan managed to hold his own, not bothering to make nice with Nitish Kumar (File)

New Delhi:

When it comes to Chirag Paswan versus his uncle Pashupati Paras in Bihar, the BJP has finally picked a side, weeks before the national election. Even if it means upsetting Nitish Kumar, who has returned to the NDA after his latest alliance switch.

The BJP has conceded Chirag Paswan’s demand for five seats, including the critical Hajipur seat that elected his father Ram Vilas Paswan seven times and where his estranged uncle Pashupati Paras won in the last Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

The BJP, no longer playing Nitish Kumar’s sidekick in Bihar, has taken the lead in the NDA fight in the state. It will contest 17 of Bihar’s 40 seats, Nitish Kumar’s party will fight 16 seats, Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will contest five, and Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi will contest one seat each.

Pashupati Paras, who revolted against nephew Chirag Paswan and split the LJP in 2021, has joined the ranks of the BJP’s dumped allies, along with Dushyant Chautala in Haryana.

This came to pass after tough negotiations during which Chirag Paswan even seemed to flirt with Lalu Yadav’s RJD. He claimed that the opposition ranks had offered him eight seats. In sticking with the BJP, however, Chirag Paswan has settled for five.

In Bihar, the major vote shares belong to Nitish Kumar’s party, Lalu Yadav’s party, and BJP – all in double digits. The Paswan votes, which make up six percent of the vote share, are mainly with Chirag Paswan, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan was the most influential leader of the community.

The BJP has made it clear that it considers Chirag Paswan the true political heir to his father’s base – a course correction after it supported Pashupati Paras’s move to split the party in 2021. Nitish Kumar, whose acrimony with Chirag Paswan is legendary, engineered the split, along with a supportive BJP.

Chirag Paswan hit the streets immediately, and within months, it was clear to all, including the Bihar BJP, that he controls the Paswan votes. So, after Nitish Kumar ditched the BJP the very next year, the BJP reached out to Chirag Paswan – even though his estranged uncle made it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet – and ensured he campaigned extensively for it in every by-election.

Chirag Paswan has managed to hold his own, not bothering to make nice with Nitish Kumar in the weeks since his return to the NDA in January. Chirag Paswan has not called Nitish Kumar until now. Regardless, the BJP’s leadership has conceded his demands in seat negotiations, effectively sinking Pashupati Paras and his faction.

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