Patna: Amid indications of widening differences with Nitish Kumar's party (Janata Dal (U), Ram Vilas Paswan's party (officially called Lok Janshakti Party, LJP) called an emergency meeting here on Saturday, chaired by the party chieftain's son, Chirag Paswan.
The sudden development triggered speculation over what the Paswans were up to. Father Paswan is a Union minister in the BJP-led NDA government, and his party and the BJP are partners in the ruling coalition in Bihar and therefore have some leverage over chief minister Nitish Kumar. Plus elections are coming up later this year.
As is normal for allied political parties, this many months before the elections they declare that they will contest all seats in the Assembly. Accordingly, the Paswan party has been saying it will contest all 243 seats in Bihar. In the 2015 elections, it won two seats.
Ahead of Saturday's 'emergency meeting, Chirag Paswan played coy when asked why such a 'crucial' meeting was called at this juncture. “Every meeting is crucial. There are so many issues in Bihar which need to be addressed. This meeting has been called to discuss issues like floods and the COVID-19 crisis,” said.
LJP insiders said Chirag Paswan, who is the party president, has been upset with some JD(U) leaders for mocking him as a “Kalidas who cuts off the branch on which he sits."
If you didn't get it, that's a reference to the legend that the great Sanskrit writer Kalidas was once so stupid that he cut off the branch he was sitting on.
That jibe by Nitish Kumar party MP Lalan Singh is typical of the needling going on between the allied parties ahead of the elections.
Recently, after prime minister Narendra Modi advised the Bihar government to step up COVID-19 testing, Paswan party leaders, Chirag Paswan in particular, tried to make it look like a bad remark against Nitish Kumar's government.
A senior Paswan party leader defended his boss. “Chirag Paswan only repeated what the prime minister had said. Has he (Lalan Singh) become Surdas who can’t see what’s happening?"
Now, that is a reference to the 16th century poet, Surdas, who was blind. That's supposed to be an insult.