The Lok Janshakti Party’s national president Chirag Paswan has adopted a careful strategy in the Bihar elections so far. He is friendly with the BJP but is not part of the National Democratic Alliance in the state. After the death of his father and LJP patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan, it remains to be seen if Chirag can capitalise on the sympathy factor in the state. While most sections which voted for his father are expected to remain intact, Chirag may also get the support of upper castes on seats where he has fielded upper caste candidates.
The LJP is contesting 143 seats in the state, with its candidates taking on JD(U) nominees in most constituencies.
So far, the BJP has been walking a tightrope in Bihar. It is trying to keep the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar in good humour, even as speculation is rife that Chirag’s experiment of breaking away from the NDA has the BJP’s support.
Elected to the post of national president of the LJP last year, the 2020 Bihar elections will be a litmus test for the young politician, laying the groundwork for both Chirag and the LJP’s future in the state. Before snapping ties with the Nitish-led NDA, the young Paswan had impressed upon his workers that it was the last Assembly polls of the older generation of socialist leaders – Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar – and that the future would belong to the younger generation. To make an impact in these elections, Chirag needs to win 8-10 seats. If his party manages to even cut into the JD(U)’s numbers, the young politician’s gamble will have paid off.