PATNA: Party workers like to recount how LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan’s decision to join NDA ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was influenced by son Chirag, who had just joined politics after an unsuccessful stint in Bollywood.
The account may suffer a degree of exaggeration as the senior Paswan would likely have done the math before allying with a Modi-led BJP. But the tale lingered and when Chirag began charting his own course ahead of the Bihar polls, his decision was seen as a bold move blessed by his father in tweets posted when he was in hospital.
Chirag succeeded in demonstrating that he could cut into NDA’s vote, but failed to emerge the pivot he hoped to. The 6% vote share has translated into just one seat. With neither side needing him, Chirag must hope to remain in NDA to be on the right side of the power equation.
From acting to politics, followed by the expected rise as LJP boss in 2019, the 37-year-old had a relatively smooth journey till his life was rocked by the death of his father on October 8, weeks before the polls.
When his film career ended after his debut movie ‘Mile Naa Mile Hum’, he could lean on his father to step into politics. But now, Chirag finds himself at the threshold of a long political career with fresh pitfalls.
His uncle Pashupati Paras has reportedly not been happy about LJP’s anti-Nitish Kumar stance, a tension that will sharpen if the JD(U) leader does become CM again. Though Ram Vilas’s relationship with Nitish had not been cordial since the February 2005 assembly election, it will be a matter of conjecture what his final call may have been ahead of the Bihar polls.
Chirag has repeatedly said he was not against PM Narendra Modi and would remain loyal and faithful. BJP has not been amused with his antics though his image as Dalit leader Paswan’s successor provides a political utility.
Paras, LJP MP from Hajipur, said, “It was part of a well-crafted strategy to fight the election on our own.” He, however, admitted that candidates were fielded on seats mostly being contested by JD(U). But in trying to unseat Nitish to settle a personal score, the LJP chief had also risked NDA’s poll prospects in the state. “In the process, he has virtually set his master’s house on fire,” said a senior BJP functionary.