“Hurt” at the BJP’s silence while he battles challenges from within his party, Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan said on Tuesday his relations with the saffron party cannot remain “one-sided” and he will consider all possibilities about his future political steps if attempts to corner him continue.
In an interview with PTI, Mr Paswan said his father Ram Vilas Paswan and he always stood by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP like a “rock” but the saffron party was not there when he expected their intervention during these “difficult” times.
Underlining that he retains his faith in PM Modi, Mr Paswan said, “But if you are cornered, pushed and forced to take a decision, then the party will consider all probabilities… The LJP will have to take a decision about its political future based on who stood by it and who did not.”
To questions on whether the BJP reached out to him during the current crisis and speculation about its role in the split, he said it was not “appropriate” for the saffron party to keep mum while the JD(U) worked to “engineer” a split in the LJP.
“I expected them (BJP) to mediate and try to sort whole things out. Their silence definitely hurts,” he said.
The BJP has maintained that the LJP crisis is an internal matter of the regional party.
Asked why he kept mum on the BJP while targeting another NDA constituent JD(U), Mr Paswan said it was the saffron party that has kept mum on him.
He alleged that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party played a “visible” role in splitting his party and has had a history of doing so.
Mr Kumar never wanted a Dalit leader to gain in stature and had earlier tried to weaken the LJP founder and his father, he said, citing a history of the JD(U) wooing LJP leaders to its side.
Amid speculation that his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who has led a group of five MPs against Mr Paswan and has been recognised as the LJP leader in Lok Sabha, may be inducted in the Union Cabinet, the two-term MP asserted that if the BJP offers Mr Paras a ministerial berth as an LJP nominee then such a decision will not be acceptable to him.
Mr Paras may be inducted as an independent or in any other capacity but his representation as the LJP nominee will not be acceptable to him, Mr Paswan said, adding that it is now for the Election Commission to decide on the rival claims about which faction represents the party.
Asked if he still sees himself as a constituent of the BJP-led NDA at the national level, he said, “I don’t know. It is for the BJP to decide whether I am part of the alliance or not. I have proven my honesty as an ally with them… But this relation cannot be one-sided forever.”
“If in return you do not recognise me, you help those who have separated from my party or are seen standing with them directly or indirectly. then I cannot remain in this capacity forever. If you do not give me recognition and respect, then eventually as party president I will have to take a decision in future,” Mr Paswan said.
He, however, added that he would like the relations of “faith” that developed between his party and PM Modi when his father was around to continue.
Ram Vilas Paswan was a Cabinet minister in the Modi government since it came to power for the first time in 2014 and till his death last year.
Chirag Paswan said “friend” from the rival RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar have reached out to him for joining them but added that his priority is not an alliance but to deal with the political and legal battle with the rival faction on hand.
Amid talks of various anti-BJP regional parties coming together and NCP leader Sharad Pawar seen to be working on it, he said, to a question on whether he sees a role for himself in the grouping, that “one can never say never” in terms of possibilities.
On all contentious issues during the Modi government, be it revocation of article 370, abolition of instant triple divorce among Muslims or the enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, his father and he had been vocal supporters of its stand and noted that the JD(U) took a different line from the BJP.
He has announced “Aashirvad Yatra” from Hajipur in Bihar from July 5, the birth anniversary of his father, as he battles the rival front for the party’s ownership.
While five of six LJP MPs are with Mr Paras, Chirag Paswan has asserted that over 90 per cent of the party’s office-bearers are with him.
Mr Paras, on the other hand, has claimed that his faction is the real LJP. He was also elected president of the party recently, a development rejected by Mr Paswan as “unconstitutional”.
Mr Paras and four other MPs have been expelled from the party by Mr Paswan-leaded group.