LS polls: As his father’s shadow looms, Chirag Paswan faces a daunting task in Hajipur

Chirag chose Hajipur this time, believing it to be the ‘karmabhoomi’ of his father. He had to fight hard to overtake his uncle, Pashupati Paras, the current MP from the constituency, in the NDA.
Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) chief and Hajipur Lok Sabha candidate Chirag Paswan.
Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) chief and Hajipur Lok Sabha candidate Chirag Paswan.Photo | X @iChiragPaswan

PATNA: Chirag Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) is riding high on the Modi factor and his father late Ram Vilas Paswan’s legacy from the Hajipur (SC) constituency.

Ram Vilas debuted in the Lok Sabha in 1977 from Hajipur with a record margin of more than 4 lakh votes. He represented the seat nine times before he was elected to the Rajya Sabha. In 2019, his younger brother, Pashupati Kumar Paras, was elected and was subsequently inducted into the Modi cabinet.

Chirag was elected a Lok Sabha MP from Jamui in 2014 and 2019.

He chose Hajipur this time, believing it to be the ‘karmabhoomi’ of his father. His mother Reena turned emotional when PM Modi, at an election rally held in Kutubpur under the Hajipur constituency, praised the Jamui MP on Monday.

The junior Paswan is pitted against Shiv Chandra Ram of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Shiv Chandra, twice MLA from Rajapakar and former state minister, unsuccessfully contested the election in 2019 but lost to Pashupati Kumar Paras largely due to the ‘Modi wave’. Shiv Chandra is considered to be close to Lalu Prasad.

Though Chirag may be new for rural voters in the constituency, people are well acquainted with his father.

“Ram Vilas ji did a lot for the development of Hajipur. Several industrial units and training institutes, besides a zonal office of the east-central railway, were set up on his initiative. He was accessible to the people of his constituency,” said BN Tiwary, a resident of Askaranpur near Mahua.

Chirag had to fight hard to overtake his uncle Paras, the current MP from Hajipur, in the NDA.

Initially, Paras was adamant about contesting the election from Hajipur and resigned from the council of ministers but had to concede the seat after the intervention of some top BJP leaders. However, he did not attend the formal gathering marking the nomination of his nephew.

People from the Paswan community considered Chirag their leader after the death of his father due to COVID-19. With the LJP (RV) allied with the BJP-JD (U)-led NDA, Chirag is hopeful of getting votes from upper-caste communities. However, upper-caste Bhumihar votes can get split due to the Munna Shukla factor.

Vijay Kumar Shukla, alias Munna Shukla, a dominant Bhumihar with a criminal background, is the RJD candidate from neighbouring Vaishali. “A section of Bhumihar voters may support the RJD nominee due to Munna Shukla’s influence in Hajipur,” said Binod Kumar, a real estate dealer in Hajipur.

Meanwhile, RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram says he has the added advantage of being the "son of Hajipur."

“I did many development works in the constituency when I was a minister in the Mahagathbandhan government in 2015,” he told this newspaper.

A sizable number of Kurmi-Koeri voters, who support the JD(U), in the constituency also comes as an advantage for the NDA candidate.

Hajipur has around 19.5 lakh voters, which includes 10.22 lakh males and 9.26 lakh females. As per the caste equation, there are around 3 lakh Paswan voters in Hajipur. There are around 3 lakh voters each belonging to the Yadav and Rajput communities.

In addition, there are two lakh Muslims, one lakh Bhumihars, one and a half lakh Kushwahas, 80,000 Brahmins, 50,000 Kurmis and Dalit-Mahadalits, and more than three lakh other voters.

The Hajipur constituency comprises six assembly segments: Hajipur, Mahua, Lalganj, Mahnar, Raghopur and Rajapakar. Four of them went to the Grand Alliance and two to the NDA in the 2020 assembly polls.

Chirag obviously has an edge over his rival, Shiv Chandra Ram, who comes from the Ravidas community. He says he was not only confident of his victory but will also make history by ending the ‘dominance of a particular family’ (read Paswans).

“I am on the threshold of making history,” he asserted.

His supporter, Sandip Ram, says the situation has changed in this election and that the outcome will be different from the past.

Hajipur is the 16th most populous city of Bihar, besides being the second-fastest-developing city, next to Patna. It lies near the Gandak River, north of its confluence with the Ganga.

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