Bihar Election 2020: Chirag Paswan sets his eyes on 2025
History came full circle when Chirag Paswan (37), the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), targeted six-time Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (69) during the assembly polls. Kumar was helped by his father, the late Ram Vilas Paswan (74), to come to power by dislodging Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) 15-year uninterrupted rule in 2005.
Though Chirag had adopted his late father’s tactics, his was mission unaccomplished. The LJP failed to emerge as a kingmaker unlike Paswan senior.
Chirag’s father had settled an old score with Prasad and helped install a Kumar-led government in a bid to end jungle raj in his native state 15 years ago.
Perhaps, Chirag can only take heart from a vote share of around 5% in the 137 seats it had contested to hurt the JD (U)’s chances and damaged the latter’s winning prospects in at least 40 of them.
“The LJP has done well. We were at the second place in several seats and in some constituencies we lost by less than 2,000-3000 votes. This gives us the platform to fight the 2025 elections with full force. The circumstances in which we had to fight the election are hidden from none. I got to know on October 7, which seats the JD (U) would contest from. To make matters worse, my father passed away the following day. We did not have enough time to strategise. Be that as it may, we have got a higher percentage of votes than before,” he said while exuding confidence about the party’s prospects in the near future.
Chirag claimed that the LJP got around 2.5 million votes.
“In all the alliances, there were around four-five parties. The LJP was the only party that fought on its own and we performed reasonably well. We demonstrated courage. We would have been happy to win more seats to form a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-LJP government. Alas! That did not happen. But my resolve has only got stronger to work towards improving Bihar and its people’s plight,” he added.
Chirag spelled out his future plans. The LJP would remain an integral part of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre, he said.
“I am happy that the people of Bihar have reposed faith in PM Modi. Only the PM can help Bihar’s inclusive growth and development,” he added.
Though the LJP spoiled the JD (U)’s election party, it failed to stop CM Kumar on its tracks to lead the state for the seventh time.
The JD (U)’s diminished strength of 43 of the 115 seats it had contested is a pointer towards a relatively poor strike rate, but Kumar had the last laugh and the callow exuberance of Chirag was no match for his astute political acumen.
The LJP, which had contested in 137 seats in the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly, managed to cut the JD (U) to size because of the rebel BJP candidates. The final tally showed that it had won only one assembly seat, but still managed to bring down the JD (U) lawmakers’ strength to 43, as compared to the BJP’s 74 – a first since 2005.
But Chirag’s design to form the next state government without CM Kumar at its helm came a cropper.
Earlier, in the 2005 October assembly elections, the LJP had contested 204 seats, but could win just 10.
But that double-digit figure was enough to oust the then RJD-led government, a similar ambition that Chirag nurtured 15 years on but failed to pull it off at the hustings.
Chirag will also regret that his below-par show will keep him out of the power play.
He cannot prevent Kumar from becoming the CM for the seventh time.
A section within the BJP was also not averse to Kumar’s downfall since the poll bugle was sounded and Chirag was seen to be in cahoots with them.
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