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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Father’s legacy burns bright for son rise: Chirag Paswan aims for record win in Hajipur

The son of former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan is pitted against RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram, a prominent local Dalit face from the Ravidas community, from the INDIA bloc but his managers see this as no contest at all

J.P. Yadav Hajipur (Bihar) Published 20.05.24, 07:18 AM
Chirag Paswan at an election meeting in Hajipur.

Chirag Paswan at an election meeting in Hajipur. Picture by JP Yadav

Suraj Kumar, who works in a biscuit factory in the Hajipur Industrial Area, wondered why reporters were wasting their time trying to find out which way the poll wind was blowing. “Chirag Paswan bumper vote se jitega (Chirag Paswan will win big),” he said, seeking to sound like a master political weathervane.

“Ram Vilas Paswanjine Hajipur ke liye itna kiya hai ki uska fayda beta Chirag ko milega (Ram Vilas Paswan did so much work in Hajipur that its benefits will be reaped by son Chirag),” he went on, “sahanubhuti ki lahar hai (he has sympathy on his side).”

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Chirag is the second prominent “son rise” in Bihar politics after Tejashwi Yadav, son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

Former Union minister Ram Vilas, one of the most prominent Dalit leaders, was synonymous with Hajipur. Not only did the constituency send Paswan to Parliament eight times, two of his Lok Sabha election victories — by 424,545 votes in 1977 and 504,448 votes in 1989 — came with margins that got him into the Guinness World Records.

Today, 47 years later, son Chirag is contesting from Hajipur on a Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) ticket, a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, following a bitter split with uncle Pashupati Paras after Paswan Senior’s death in 2020. With both factions part of the NDA, the BJP leadership chose to tilt towards Chirag and allot him five of Bihar’s 40 seats, including Hajipur, aware that the son had sympathy on his side.

The factory Suraj, from the OBC ‘hajam’ caste, works in is in the industrial area Ram Vilas got for the constituency when he wielded clout in several governments — both of NDA and UPA — in Delhi. As railway minister, Paswan also carved out a separate East Central railway zone, headquartered in Hajipur. Besides, he got a unit of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as well as a state-run hotel management institute here.

Chirag is now banking on the goodwill and sympathy for his father that pervades deep in the constituency to win with a record margin. “Mera neta, mere pita hain (My leader is my father),” he has been repeating at every election meeting, promising to take his father’s work further.

He is pitted against RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram, a prominent local Dalit face from the Ravidas community, from the INDIA bloc but his managers see this as no contest at all.

“What to talk of other castes, even 30 per cent of Yadavs here will vote for Paswan,” said Arun Yadav of Bajitpur village on the Hajipur-Jandaha road.

A section of Yadavs backing him may or may not be true, given that Tejashwi represents the Yadav-dominated Raghopur Assembly segment under Hajipur, but Chirag’s support rests on the upper ca­ste voters and the lower OBCs in addition to his caste-folk.

Yahan har har Modi hai. Chirag Modi ke saath hai to uska jeet tai hai (Here, it’s all hail Modi. Chirag is with Modi and so his victory is certain),” said Raghunath Singh, a Rajput farmer from Chandni-Dhanushi on the Hajipur-Lalganj road.

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