EC assigns new party names, symbols to warring LJP factions
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday allotted new symbols and party names to the warring factions of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan and Pashupati Kumar Paras, Union minister of food processing industries.
The ECI’s move came three days after it froze the ‘bungalow’ symbol for the party, barring both factions from using it in the bypolls on October 30.
Following requests from Paswan, the lawmaker from Jamui in Bihar, the poll panel said his faction will be recognised as Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), while Paras’ team will be acknowledged as Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party.
The Paswan and Paras-led factions were assigned the ‘helicopter’ and ‘sewing machine’ symbols, respectively, by the poll panel.
“Having considered the request, the Commission has allotted the name Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) for your group and has allotted the Symbol ‘Helicopter’ as the symbol to be allotted to the candidate set up, if any, by your group in the current by-election,” a directive issued by ECI to Paswan said.
In the order issued to Hajipur MP Paras, the ECI said: “Having considered your request, the Commission has allotted the name Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party for your group and has allotted the Symbol ‘Sewing Machine’ as the symbol to be allotted to the candidate set up, if any, by your group in the current by-election.”
In June, the two warring factions had approached the ECI over the right on the party symbol.
On October 1, Paswan moved the poll panel, seeking an early settlement on the issue ahead of bypolls to two assembly seats in Bihar – Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan – at the end of the month. The seats were earlier represented by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which will also be contesting the constituencies.
“We welcome the EC’s decision. It is a vindication of our claim that we are the real holders of former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s legacy. Some parties wanted to sabotage our election prospects, but truth has finally won,” LJP (Ram Vilas) spokesperson Ashraf Ansari said.
LJP (Ram Vilas) leaders believe that the addition of Ram Vilas Paswan’s name would help the party secure Dalit votes. “It’s a blessing in disguise,” a leader belonging to this group said, requesting anonymity.
Speaking on similar lines, Gyanendra Yadav, associate professor of sociology, College of Commerce in Patna, said: “Late Ram Vilas Paswan was a tall Dalit leader and he still has a strong following, which was proved during Chirag’s Aashirvad Yatra in July. Union minister Pashupati Paras could not get the same response.”
Chirag Paswan had embarked on a state-wide rally on July 5 this year on the birth anniversary of his father Ram Vilas Paswan.
Paras also welcomed the poll panel’s decision. “I welcome the EC’s decision. I have been allotted the name Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party and the ‘Sewing Machine’ as the party symbol,” he said.
The LJP has been in a crisis since June, when a faction headed by Paras removed his estranged nephew Paswan as party chief, prompting the latter’s loyalists to respond by stripping five rebel parliamentarians of the party’s primary membership.
The party, which has six MPs but no MLAs, split after five lawmakers rebelled against Paswan’s leadership and chose Paras as the new leader of their parliamentary party. The MPs consequently met Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, and the Lok Sabha secretariat recognised Paras as the parliamentary party chief hours later.
Paswan has shown his willingness to take up a legal battle to regain control of the party.
The LJP was founded by former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan in 2000. Paswan, a heavyweight Dalit leader in Bihar politics, died in October last year.
The LJP during the 2020 Bihar assembly polls had damaged the JD(U)’s prospects in at least 30-35 seats. The JD(U) managed to secure only 43 seats.