Mr Paras bristled at the suggestion that the BJP may throw its weight behind Chirag Paswan. (File)
Union minister Pashupati Kumar Paras on Saturday said he will contest the next Lok Sabha polls from Hajipur, rebuffing his nephew Chirag Paswan who has staked claim on late father Ram Vilas Paswan's constituency.
Addressing a press conference at the headquarters of his Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party here, Mr Paras expressed confidence that the BJP-led NDA will back his claim on the seat and not that of Chirag who was "yet to become a part" of the coalition.
"I am a part of the NDA and there are no doubts about that. On the other hand, Chirag may have attended the NDA meet in Delhi but was not invited to the meeting of the alliance's MPs convened inside Parliament. This says it all," said Mr Paras.
He also said, "I must debunk speculations of a thaw with Chirag which have arisen following photographs of him touching my feet, in Delhi, and me offering him my blessings. That is a part of the culture of Bihar and of the Mithila region to which we belong."
Mr Paras, who is now 71 years old, also rubbished reports in a section of the media that he might take the Rajya Sabha route, like his late brother did in the final phase of his life, or settle down for a gubernatorial post, which would end the stalemate with his nephew.
"No power on earth can stop me from contesting Hajipur in the next elections. All such reports which say otherwise are like the noises made by frogs during the rainy season. You may hear these since it is an election year but there is no substance in such stories," he said.
When it was pointed out that Chirag has been staking his claim on Hajipur, calling it the "karmabhoomi" of his late father who had nurtured the seat over decades, Mr Paras snapped "late Paswan was my brother, too".
"Chirag should remember that I was never willing to fight the Lok Sabha polls in the first place. After filing my nomination papers from Hajipur, I had told reporters that I felt like I had suffered a demotion. Many interpreted it as an admission of defeat. But I was merely pointing to the fact that I was already a minister in Bihar," Mr Paras said.
"When my brother told me he wanted me to fight from Hajipur, I initially showed my reluctance. I asked him to consider, for the seat, Chirag or his mother (bhabhi ji). But my brother was insistent," claimed the Union minister, who got inducted into the cabinet a few months after Paswan's death.
"Finally, I gave in as I have never disobeyed my brother. When he gave up his Alauli Vidhan Sabha seat decades ago, to move to Parliament, I entered the fray upon his bidding, giving up my job as a government teacher," recalled Mr Paras.
He added, "I nurtured Alauli for decades, keeping the flag of my brother aflutter. This was the reason why he wanted me and none else to contest from Hajipur which he had represented so many times. Besides, my brother was mindful that Chirag was already an MP from Jamui and must concentrate on that seat."
Mr Paras bristled at the suggestion that the BJP may throw its weight behind Chirag Paswan, who is perceived to have garnered the sympathy factor following his father's death.
"Why would the BJP do so? It cannot forget that, in the 2020 assembly polls, Chirag kept saying he was the BJP's Hanuman but helped the victory of the RJD in many seats where it was pitted against the BJP. Till date, he has never spoken a word against RJD president Lalu Prasad," alleged Mr Paras.
He added, "Chirag revolted against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (then in NDA) in the assembly polls, ignoring the disapproval of all other MPs of the undivided LJP. But we were helpless since he was then the national president of the party and also headed its parliamentary board."
"His brinkmanship hit the LJP hard. We won just one seat in assembly polls and the lone MLA soon joined the JD(U). A reason why we finally decided to part ways," said Mr Paras.
"It is not just the party which broke. There is a chasm between our hearts and that cannot be bridged," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)