Hajipur Lok Sabha seat a litmus test for Chirag Paswan

Patna: Hajipur (SC Reserved) seat is one of the hot seats of Bihar which will decide the political future of youth leader Chirag Paswan, who is the National President of the Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas (LJP-RV).

He carries the big political legacy of his father Ram Vilas Paswan on his shoulders and it is his responsibility to preserve it.

Hajipur came into the limelight in 1977 when Ram Vilas Paswan won from here on a Janata Party ticket by an unprecedented number of votes and registered his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ram Vilas Paswan, who secured 89.3 per cent votes in 1977, won from Hajipur Lok Sabha seat eight times and in 2019 his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras became an MP from this seat.

Now, with the senior Paswan gone, this seat is considered a litmus test for his son Chirag.

Chirag Paswan overshadowed his uncle in claiming the Hajipur seat and he is pitted against RJD’s Shivchandra Ram.

To give his candidature a boost, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an election rally in Hajipur.

Chirag Paswan is claiming that the NDA will win not only Hajipur but all the 40 seats of Bihar. For the first time in his political career, he is contesting an election without the support of his father.

Significantly, Pashupati Kumar Paras, Prince Paswan and other members of the Paswan family are also not seen openly supporting Chirag Paswan.

On his part, the young leader has also said on many occasions that his uncle and brothers left him during a time of crisis and he is only getting support from his mother Reena Paswan and PM Modi.

There was a huge rivalry between Pashupati Kumar Paras and Chirag Paswan regarding this seat, but NDA supported the young leader and gave him the responsibility of saving his father’s legacy.

When Ram Vilas Paswan separated from everyone else and formed his party called Lok Janshakti Party, he first established his family in politics. However, his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras also started his political innings by winning the Assembly elections in 1977. In the 2014 parliamentary election, out of the six seats that the LJP won as a constituent of the NDA, three MPs were from the Paswan family.

The same story was repeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. When Ram Vilas Paswan went to Rajya Sabha, Pashupati Kumar Paras, Ramchandra Paswan and Chirag Paswan were elected MPs from Hajipur, Samastipur and Jamui respectively.

When Ramchandra Paswan died in 2020, his son Prince Raj was fielded in the bye-election and he also reached Parliament. In this way, Ram Vilas Paswan established his entire family in politics.

After Ram Vilas Paswan died in October 2020 following a protracted illness, the entire responsibility of the party fell on Chirag Paswan who was also the Chairman of the LJP Parliamentary Board.

Plus Chirag Paswan had already become the acting chief of the party while his father was alive.

When the Bihar Assembly elections were held in 2020, Chirag Paswan gave the slogan of ‘Bihar First, Bihari First’, opposing the JD(U) and CM Nitish Kumar.

He took a different path from the NDA and contested the elections alone. However, he did not field his candidates on most of the seats against the BJP. Chirag thought that he would get so many seats in the Assembly elections that were held soon after his father’s death, that he would form the government along with the BJP.

However, Chirag Paswan’s hopes were dashed when the LJP, which was contesting on 137 seats, got only 1 seat.

This was a big loss for Chirag, his party and also for the JD(U). However, the BJP and JD(U) succeeded in forming the government.

The effect of the defeat in the Bihar Assembly election was such that many leaders within the party openly opposed Chirag Paswan’s strategy and the party split eventually.

Chirag became completely isolated after the LJP broke in 2021. Chandan Singh, the MP from Nawada, Veena Devi of Vaishali and Mahboob Ali Kaiser of Khagaria, Pashupati Kumar Paras of Hajipur and Chirag Paswan’s cousin Prince Raj from Samastipur also left him and formed a new political party Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party with five MPs.

After the split, the battle for the legacy of Ram Vilas Paswan began within the Paswan family.

In the name of Ram Vilas Paswan, Chirag Paswan took out an ‘Ashirwad Yatra’ across Bihar for sympathy and support. He succeeded in his efforts and got the support of Dalits and youths.

After the split in LJP, Pashupati Kumar Paras got the post of Union minister while Chirag Paswan did not get a place in the Cabinet.

Despite that, he did not leave the NDA officially and his relations with big leaders of the BJP remained cordial. He also described himself as ‘Modi’s Hanuman’ in many public forums.

Not only this, he supported the BJP in the bye-elections held for three seats of the Bihar Assembly and the party won two out of three seats. After this, it was final that Chirag Paswan would remain with the BJP only.

Meanwhile, just before the announcement of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the political equation in Bihar changed and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) became a part of the NDA.

The arrival of the JD(U) in the NDA had created many complications regarding seat distribution, the biggest problem being the Hajipur seat as both Pashupati Kumar Paras and Chirag Paswan were claiming it.

The top BJP leadership wanted the uncle and nephew to reach a consensus however, it did not happen.

While Paras was calling himself the successor of Ram Vilas, Chirag claimed that being the son, he had a natural claim on his father’s inheritance.

In this fight between uncle and nephew, the nephew got the support of the NDA and ultimately Chirag got the Hajipur seat and his party got five seats in Bihar, while his uncle Pashupati Paras’ party was not given a single seat.

Angered by this seat distribution, Paras resigned from the Union Cabinet. There were discussions about going with the Grand Alliance but later all RLJP MPs except Mahboob Ali Kaiser decided to stay with the NDA.

The voting in Hajipur will take place in the fifth phase on May 20 and it remains to be seen how the son will uphold the legacy of his father.

IANS

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