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Every party wants him to be on its side, asserts Chirag at Bihar rally

Patna, Mar 10 (PTI) Former Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan on Sunday asserted that every party wants him to be on its side, indicating he could tilt towards the one that offered a better bargain.

Patna, Mar 10 (PTI) Former Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan on Sunday asserted that every party wants him to be on its side, indicating he could tilt towards the one that offered a better bargain.

Paswan, an NDA ally, has been getting feelers from the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, the opposition coalition in Bihar.

Addressing a rally in the Sahebganj assembly segment, Chirag dropped ample hints that he was weighing his options and could tilt towards the side with a better bargain.

'I can see the posse of media persons here who are anxious to know whom Chirag Paswan is aligned with. I wish to tell them that Chirag Paswan is aligned only with the people of Bihar,” said the young leader, who has often sworn by his loyalty towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, likening him to Lord Ram and himself to Lord Hanuman.

'Every party, every coalition wants Chirag Paswan to be on its side,' he said, adding that this was because people were enamored with his 'Bihar first Bihari first' vision that seeks to pull the state out of chronic backwardness.

In his speech, he made yet another attempt to project himself as true heir to his late father Ram Vilas Paswan, calling himself 'sher ka beta'.

He refrained from mentioning by name bete noires in the NDA, Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister who heads the JD(U), and Union minister, uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who split the late leader’s party.

The young leader, however, spoke at length about the 'conspiracies' he had to face, 'aimed at breaking my home, my family and my party, though I have demonstrated that Chirag Paswan cannot be cowed down'.

The rally at Sahebanj under the Vaishali Lok Sabha seat, which the LJP won in the last two elections, is being seen as a fresh attempt by Paswan to claim his father's legacy, after having earlier declared that the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), a splinter group that he now heads, will contest Hajipur, which the late leader had represented several times.

Predictably, the nephew's offensive has not got down well with Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party (RLJP) headed by Paras, who is the sitting MP from Hajipur, and has made it clear that he will seek re-election from the seat.

RLJP spokesman Shravan Agrawal said, 'There is no question of our giving up Hajipur or any of the other four seats our party holds. We are sure our claim will be honoured by the BJP as we are the NDA's natural allies. Why else are they (Chirag's party) getting an offer from the other side, but nobody dares to approach us with such enticements'.

While no ‘Mahagathbandhan’ leader has said on record what was the 'offer' made to Paswan, sources in the coalition, which includes the Congress, RJD and three Left parties, said he could be accommodated with 'more than six seats'.

The LJP had, in 2019, fought six seats, winning all of those, though the two splinter groups may have to settle for a much smaller number this time, especially in view of the fact that the NDA has brought into its fold two smaller parties, the Rashtriya Lok Morcha of former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha and Hindustani Awam Morcha of ex-CM Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Moreover, Nitish Kumar, who had quit the NDA for a brief period, is also back in the coalition, and is understood to be adamant on his share of 17 seats, the number fought by the JD(U) five years ago when it won all but one.

BJP leaders said on the condition of anonymity that the feud between uncle and nephew is a thorn in the flesh, as the party cannot afford to lose Chirag, who enjoys mass appeal, but also does not wish to turn its back on Paras, whom it made a Union minister after Paswan senior's death and behind whom all other LJP MPs had rallied when the party split up in 2021.

However, one of the MPs, Veena Devi, who represents Vaishali, recently announced that she was back in Chirag's camp. She was also present at the Sahebganj rally. PTI NAC RBT

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