PATNA: A politician with more than four decades of experience, Pashupati Kumar Paras, who was administered the oath of office as Union cabinet minister on Wednesday, has spent the larger part of his career under the shadow of his late brother Ram Vilas Paswan.
However, having staged a successful revolt against the latter's son Chirag Paswan, the Lok Sabha MP from Hajipur in Bihar now seems poised to come into his own.
Paras, who previously headed Lok Janshakti Party's Bihar unit and is currently the national president of its breakaway faction, began his innings in 1978 as a Janata Party MLA from Alauli in his native Khagaria district, a seat formerly represented by the late Ram Vilas Paswan.
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He represented the assembly segment several times, on tickets of the Janata Dal and later of the party floated by his brother. He became a member of the Nitish Kumar cabinet in the state in 2017 when the chief minister realigned with the NDA.
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw him making his parliamentary debut from Hajipur, a constituency the late Ram Vilas Paswan had nurtured over the decades. The move was seen as indicative of the trust between the two brothers.
Nonetheless, the elevation of his greenhorn nephew Chirag as LJP national president mortified Paras who did not immediately choose to vent his dissatisfaction but hit back and extracted his pound of flesh when the Jamui MP was down in the dumps.
Chirag who was hoping to step into father Ram Vilas's shoes as the sole leader of the Paswan community had led his party to a disastrous assembly performance and painted himself into a corner by burning bridges with Nitish Kumar.
This obviously gave his uncle the chance that he had long been on the lookout for.
Armed with the support of all other party MPs, Paras last month elbowed out Chirag as the LJP's leader in the Lok Sabha and came down heavily on the young MP's vainglory in attacking the BJP-backed chief minister in Bihar while claiming loyalty towards the saffron party.
A cornered Chirag, who has challenged his uncle's political coup before the Election Commission, seemed to have sensed the writing on the wall when at a press conference in Patna on Tuesday he declared he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him not to induct Paras on the LJP quota.
Desperation was evident when Chirag said he would be moving the court if Paras found a berth in the Union council of ministers. The 68-year-old, meanwhile, seems to be having the last laugh.