Locked in battle with uncle Pashupati Paras for control of the Lok Janshakti Party, Chirag Paswan has decided to hit where it would hurt the most -- a display of popular support for him as the political heir of Ramvilas Paswan. After a meeting today, Paswan Junior said he would hold a roadshow in Bihar on father's birth anniversary next month, which is expected to make the situation clear to the rebels.
The meeting concluded that they will demand Bharat Ratna -- the country's highest civilian award -- for Ram Vilas Paswan. It also condemned Mr Paswan's uncle and rebel leader Pashupati Paras for his statements and actions, saying he was misleading the people.
After the meeting today, Chirag Paswan sought his mother's blessings, saying the battle ahead is like "Mahabharata" -- referring to the epic battle between Pandavas and the Kauravas.
"Ninety per cent of the working committee members were with me. Except Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, the presidents of all other states are with us. There were only 9 people with him. Tell them how many people were in their working committee," he said.
The buzz in Bihar is that despite the coup by Pashupati Paras on Monday, Chirag Paswan is still seen as the real leader of the party by the Paswan community, who comprise six per cent of the voting population in Bihar.
This has not only been the talking point in the party but also the opposition bloc, including Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, which has already sent feelers to Paswan Junior. Sources said even the BJP has received feedback that the LJP supporters are likely to back Chirag Paswan's aggressive politics and have no confidence that Mr Paras will be able to match it.
Ramvilas Paswan, a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, had died in October last year. Less than a year after his death, the party is in deep crisis, with his younger brother -- so far a backroom strategist -- making a bid for takeover.
On Monday, five MPs including Mr Paras, had rebelled and asked the Lok Sabha Speaker recognise them as a separate group.
The next day, the rebel faction removed Chirag Paswan as the party chief at an "emergency meeting", citing the party rule of "One man one post". Chirag Paswan, they pointed out, held three, and promised to elect a new chief shortly. Suraj Bhan Singh was named the party's interim president.
In retaliation, Mr Paswan named his right-hand man Raju Tiwari as the party's Bihar unit president.
But Mr Paras is already seen as making a miscalculation, announcing that he would be inducted as a Union Minister. The party is likely to get a cabinet position vacated by the death of Ram Vilas Paswan. Such tactics is not likely to endear him to the BJP's central leaders, who prefer to keep decisions to themselves till a formal announcement is made, sources said.