The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), founded by Ram Vilas Paswan, is facing an uphill task this time in the Lok Sabha elections of reasserting its political standing after the party chief has virtually passed on the baton to his son Chirag Paswan. Serving his eighth term as the MP from Hajipur Lok Sabha seat, which Ram Vilas Paswan has won with record margins on more than one occasion, the septuagenarian leader has made it clear that he will not be contesting the polls and seek re-entry into Parliament through the Rajya Sabha.
His party, however, will be contesting six out of the 40 seats in Bihar the same number the LJP had won in 2014 in alliance with the BJP and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United). The success of his party in these six seats which include brother Ram Chandra Paswan Samastipur, as also Jamui represented by Chirag Paswan would show the esteem in which people still hold the legacy of the Union minister whose frequent change of loyalties has earned him the colourful sobriquet 'mausam vaigyanik', meaning a weatherman who has the uncanny knack of sensing which way the wind blows.
The party had come into being in 2000 following a bitter feud with Sharad Yadav, the veteran socialist leader, who at that time headed the JD(U) with which Paswan was aligned. He sought recognition as a separate group with the support of four out of 10 JD(U) MPs including himself, which was granted by the then Lok Sabha Speaker GMC Balayogi and the LJP was thus founded.
LJP started off with its founder being a member of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet. He then quit the NDA and gave up his ministerial berth in protest against the 2002 riots in BJP-ruled Gujarat. Since 2002, Paswan has changed his loyalties at a head-spinning rate, meeting with success on some occasions as also humiliating losses like his own defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, and its members in both the houses of the state legislature defecting to the JD(U) in the next few years.
The JD(U)s exit from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2013 made the BJP look for new allies and the opportunity was seized by Paswan even though it required him to hold the brief for Narendra Modi ironically, the man blamed for Gujarat riots as the then chief minister of the western Indian state. It is believed that the emergence of India as a new economic power under Modi's plank of development with corruption-free governance became an obvious justification for Paswans realignment in the larger interest of the people.
If voters re-endorse this plank of the NDA, 'mausam' (weather) would turn out to be favourable for the LJP too.
(With inputs from agencies.)