"My Heartfelt Gratitude": Chirag Paswan Thanks PM After Father's Funeral

Ram Vilas Paswan, 74, died at a Delhi hospital after undergoing heart surgery the week before; his body was flown to Patna and he was given a state funeral yesterday

'My Heartfelt Gratitude': Chirag Paswan Thanks PM After Father's Funeral

LJP chief Chirag Paswan said his party would fight independently of Nitish Kumar's JDU in Bihar polls

Patna:

LJP chief Chirag Paswan, who is mourning the loss of his father - Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan - on Sunday offered Prime Minister Narendra Modi his "heartfelt gratitude" for help in organising the funeral that was held at Patna's Janardhana Ghat on Saturday. He did not, however, mention Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was present but with whom he has a strained relationship.

In an emotional tweet, Chirag Paswan said he was going through a difficult phase and the Prime Minister's unasked-for aid had come as a blessing. He also said that he hoped these blessings would always remain with him.

"Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modiji... my heartfelt gratitude for your help in organising the funeral and last rites for my papa. Sir... you made all the arrangements without my asking for anything. As a son I am going through a very difficult phase but am inspired by your courage and encouragement," Mr Paswan said in Hindi.

"May your blessings and affection always remain," he added.

Chirag Paswan, who has made no secret of his political ambition or held back in his criticism of the Chief Minister, earlier raised the banner of revolt, saying the LJP - which is part of the BJP-led NDA at the centre - would not contest the poll with Mr Kumar's JDU, which rules Bihar in alliance with the BJP.

Mr Paswan spoke of "difference of ideologies" with the JDU but suggested that ties with the BJP would remain intact. "After the state elections, all the candidates who win will form a BJP-LJP government and follow the path of progress shown by Prime Minister Modi," his party said.

Days later the BJP warned the LJP leader, with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil (the party's senior most leader in the state) saying: "Come back to the BJP fold or be expelled".

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On Sunday, BJP President JP Nadda, who addressed his first campaign rally, did not name Mr Paswan or the LJP but appeared to downplay the episode, saying elections were not friendly contests.

He did, though, praise Nitish Kumar's governance of Bihar, working the JDU chief into the "Modi hai to mumkin hai (If there is Modi, then it is possible)" slogan the BJP used ahead of the 2019 election.

"Modi hain to mumkin hain aur Nitish hain to sambhav hai (Modi, Nitish make it possible)," Mr Nadda said, in another indirect warning to Chirag Paswan and his hope of a non-JDU-tie-up with the BJP.

Mr Paswan must now overcome the loss of his father and lead his party in Bihar Assembly elections that start in less than 20 days.

Ram Vilas Paswan, 74, died at a Delhi hospital last week after undergoing heart surgery the week before. His body was flown to Patna and he was given a state funeral yesterday. The last rites were performed by his deeply grieving son, who fell unconscious after he lit the funeral pyre.

Elections for Bihar's 243-member Assembly will take place over three phases starting October 28. Results are due November 3.