LJP split: Why the oldest Dalit leader of country is facing revolt from senior party leaders?

The LJP which won all 6 LS seats it contested in the recent election, faced a vertical split on June 13. The rebel leaders accused Ram Vilas Paswan of running the party like a private limited company

LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan (Photo courtesy: social media)
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan (Photo courtesy: social media)

Soroor Ahmed

Perhaps there never has been a party, which within three weeks of having won all the six seats it had contested in has undergone a split. The Lok Janshakti Party which won all the six Lok Sabha seats it contested in the recently held election, faced a vertical split on June 13.

A group of leaders under the leadership of national general secretary of the party Satyanand Sharma raised the banner of revolt and formed a separate outfit, LJP (Secular). Sharma, while addressing newsmen in Patna, directly accused the LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan of running the party like a private limited company. He also charged the Union Minister with promoting corruption, casteism and family rule.

The truth is that this is not the first time that Paswan had fielded his brothers and son in election. What is different is that this time Satyanand Sharma did not get ticket to contest. Last time he was the only LJP candidate to lose the election. The LJP, in alliance with the BJP, contested seven seats in 2014 and won six of them. Sharma lost from Nalanda then.

Had Rashtriya Janata Dal, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party or even for that matter Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party faced such a situation it would have been understandable as these parties fared very badly in the recently held election.

But why is it that the the oldest Dalit leader of the country facing open revolt from those who had stood with him through thick and thin, when he was down in the dump.

It needs to be mentioned that the LJP failed to win a single seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha election yet it did not break.

After all these leaders should have remained in the party at the best of time. The LJP was formed in November 2000.

The problem with the LJP is that though Ram Vilas Paswan is still the supremo of the party and his two brothers have been elected to Lok Sabha last month, it is son Chirag Paswan, who is the de facto leader of the party. He is the chairman of the parliamentary board of the LJP and literally calls the shot. His father and uncles have been marginalized.

Chirag won from Jamui Lok Sabha seat. Thus three of the six Lok Sabha MPs are from the party while Ram Vilas himself is likely to be sent to Rajya Sabha from Assam. The BJP had promised a berth in the Upper House at the time of seat sharing agreement December last.

So with Chirag at the helm of party affairs it was natural for the senior leaders of the party to feel alienated. In fact the revolt started before the Lok Sabha election when the sitting MP from Vaishali Rama Singh dissociated himself from Ram Vilas after being with him for such a long time.

But the big question is why did not these leaders wait till the next year’s Assembly election so that they can be suitably rewarded by the Paswan family? Why did they opt out of the party when the scene in the opposition camp is very dismal?

But since the politics in Bihar is heading towards unpredictable direction nothing can be ruled out. If the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar can start singing in a different tune after the Lok Sabha poll and land good friend, the BJP in an uncomfortable position he can easily attract the breakaway LJP leaders to his own party, the Janata Dal United.

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Published: 14 Jun 2019, 1:26 PM