Chirag drives hard bargain for 5 parl seats



Expanding NDAChirag drives hard bargain for 5 parl seatsAs the deadline for filing nominations for 56 Rajya Sabha seats draws to a close on February 15, discussions among allies in Bihar have taken a tense turn. Former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan, who the BJP is courting, has toughened stance over his demand for a Rajya Sabha seat for his mother and four Lok Sabha seats for his party Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas). He has had two rounds of meetings with BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Included in the Lok Sabha seats he is demanding is Hajipur, a seat from where his father had won eight times. The seat is currently held by his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who had split the LJP after Paswan’s death and took away five of the six Lok Sabha MPs to join the BJP-led NDA. Paras was made minister in the Modi government in 2021. But over the years Chirag has emerged as a more powerful leader of the sizable Paswan community in Bihar. The BJP is, therefore, keen to rope him into the NDA fold. But sources said the party is finding it difficult to accept Chirag’s demand. The BJP has offered two seats each to the Chirag and Paras factions of the LJP. It has agreed to give the Hajipur seat to Chirag but is not ready to offer a Rajya Sabha seat to Chirag’s mother. Chirag is not ready to accept the BJP offer. There are reports that he has been offered six seats by the Lalu Yadav-led RJD. The Bihar pot-boiler promises to hold the attention of political watchers in this poll season.Rajya Sabha Nominations Kamal Nath’s dinner meet to mount pressureThe lobbying for Rajya Sabha seat has reached a feverish pitch in the Congress. The party expects to win nine out of the 56 seats to be filled this month. Sources said veteran leader Kamal Nath is keen to enter the Upper House. He has been camping in Delhi to lobby for his seat. But Rahul Gandhi has so far avoided meeting him as he is not very keen on sending Kamal Nath to the Rajya Sabha after the party’s humiliating defeat in the Madhya Pradesh state assembly election under his leadership. Rahul has left Delhi without meeting Kamal Nath to resume his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. But Kamal Nath has refused to give up. He has called a dinner meeting of all Congress MLAs in Bhopal on February 13. A large number of these MLAs owe allegiance to him as they were given party tickets by him. The Congress leadership had given Kamal Nath a free hand to fight the assembly election. This included choosing candidates. The party has enough MLAs in the state to elect one candidate to the Rajya Sabha. A message is sought to be sent that no Congress candidate except Kamal Nath will be allowed to win from Madhya Pradesh. With both sides keenly watching as to who will blink first, the majority opinion is that Kamal Nath may ultimately prevail.Shahid FaridiThe writer is Resident EditorTNIE, New Delhi.Email: shahid@newindianexpress.com



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