Nitish Kumar’s “Vote For Ram Vilas Paswan” Appeal. Then, A Correction

Nitish Kumar canvassing for Chirag Paswan in Hajipur

Nitish Kumar today appeared to be asking for votes for late Ram Vilas Paswan, the veteran leader from Bihar who died in 2020. However, the 73-year-old Chief Minister quickly course corrected and pitched for Chirag Paswan, the late leader’s son.  

Bihar ka koi bhi kaam peeche nahi rahega, har tarah se hoga, isliye toh hum log kehne aaye hai ki bhai Ram Vilas ji ko dijiye, ek baari (No work of Bihar will be left behind, it will be done in every way. That is why we have come to say that please vote for Ram Vilas Paswan,” said the Chief Minister.

Swiftly changing course, the Chief Minister then appealed for votes for Chirag Paswan, a second-generation politician, fighting from Hajipur – a seat represented by Senior Paswan nine times.

Ram Vilas ji ke putra ko aap dijiye, Chirag Paswan ji ko (Please vote for Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan),” said the Chief Minister in Hajipur. 

Aur jab itna jyada dete hi the Ram Vilas Paswan ji ko, lekin aap inko dijiye abhi toh naujawan hain, ye aage badhega aur khoob kaam karega (You used to vote overwhelmingly for Ram Vilas Paswan ji, now vote for Chirag Paswan. He is young and will do a lot of work),” said the Chief Minister amid loud cheers and a round of applause. 

The acrimony between Mr Kumar and Junior Paswan, both back in the BJP-led NDA, appeared a thing of the past. 

Chirag Paswan, 41, has pledged eternal loyalty to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a dramatic Hanuman metaphor, he has said that the image of PM Modi is seared in his heart and will be visible to anyone if, like Lord Hanuman, he slashes open his chest.  

“I am terribly missing my father. This is the first time when I will have to file nomination papers with him not around. He was there to bless me both in 2014 and 2019,” Mr Paswan, who calls himself a “Yuva Bihari”, told reporters after filing his nomination on Thursday.

Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has got five seats in Bihar as per the seat-sharing formula decided by the BJP-led coalition.

He was the national president of Lok Janshakti Party, founded by late Paswan, until it was split in 2021 by the latter’s younger brother Pashupati Kumar Paras.

Pashupati Paras currently holds the Hajipur seat, which will vote in the fifth phase on May 20 in the ongoing marathon six week Lok Sabha polls.  

The 40 seats in Bihar are undergoing polls in all seven phases. In 2019, BJP-led NDA swept the state by winning 39 out of 40 seats, while Congress won just one seat. Lalu Yadav’s RJD, a formidable force in the state, failed to open its account.

The Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), the opposition coalition in Bihar, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, and Left parties, have announced that the RJD, its largest constituent, will contest 26 seats.

As part of the NDA, BJP and JD(U) will contest on 17 and 16 seats, respectively. Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Rashtriya Lok Morcha will contest one seat each.

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