Chirag Paswan To NDTV My Father Instigated Me To Contest Alone

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Two-time Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan, however, said it was his father who pushed him towards his decision.

New Delhi:

Chirag Paswan, whose solo fight has become the X-factor in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s Bihar election campaign, says it was his father Ram Vilas Paswan who “instigated” him to go it alone, contrary to the narrative of the BJP.

“He used to instigate me. He used to tell me you must contest alone and that is how the party will strengthen and spread,” Chirag Paswan, in mourning after his father’s death last week, told NDTV.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who founded the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) that Chirag Paswan now heads, died last Thursday after a heart surgery.

After Chirag Paswan, 37, announced his decision to contest separately from the NDA, emphasizing that he remained committed to his alliance with the BJP but would fight Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal United, many in the ruling coalition suggested that his father would never have condoned it.

BJP leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi, the Deputy Chief Minister, openly said had Ram Vilas Paswan been active, he would never have decided to go against Nitish Kumar and fight alone.

Two-time Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan, however, said it was his father who pushed him towards his decision.

“This was his biggest dream, that the party should contest alone. He told me in 2005 I took the decision. You are young, why are you not taking the decision?”

He said many BJP leaders, like Minister of State Nityanand Rai and Shahnawaz Husain had spoken to Ram Vilas Paswan in the past few months and had known of his wish.

“He was very clear. He told me very categorically, if today because of you the current Chief Minister (Nitish Kumar) continues for the next five years, you will be regretting it 10 to 15 years down the line that because of you the state had to suffer for five more years,” Chirag Paswan said.

Nitish Kumar continuing as Chief Minister “would be a disaster”, Paswan senior felt, according to him. “He was the one who pushed me here,” he said.

On his father’s death just before a crucial, career-defining election for him, Chirag Paswan said: “I do miss him a lot. I think no one can ever be prepared for a situation like this. To be very honest, right now I was just not prepared. Elections are right there and him not being around… He was my pillar of strength. Just by that virtue I could fight the world. But I will continue to do that. Not that anything has made me weak. I continue to get strength from him…”

For the LJP, which has seen its core Dalits vote bank eroding over the years, it is a big risk to contest alone. The Paswans largely blame Nitish Kumar for chipping away at their support base over the years and for them, partnering with him was untenable. Many believe the BJP sees the LJP as a good foil to keep Nitish Kumar in check even though the party has openly sided with the Chief Minister. The LJP is no longer a part of the NDA in Bihar, the BJP has said, but it remains an ally at the centre.

Bihar will vote on October 28, November 3 and 7. The results on November 10 will show whether Chirag Paswan’s gamble paid off.

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