Chirag Paswan's video shoot after father's death triggers row day before poll
Patna, Oct 27: He jokes, talks about ''cuts and edits'' in Bollywood parlance, and even the ''texture'' of hair, as he stands in front of the smiling portrait of his father Ram Vilas Paswan.
A purported video of LJP president Chirag Paswan rehearsing for a video message a day after the death of his father, one of the foremost Dalit leaders Bihar produced after Jagjivan Ram, has gone viral.
The 37 years old LJP chief, embarrassed over the development that came less than 24 hours before Bihar votes in the first phase of assembly polls, reacted with indignation and accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of "stooping so low", suggesting that he suspected the JD(U) president''s hand in the damaging video.
In the nearly two-minute clip, shot before he got his head tonsured as a sign of bereavement, the Jamui MP can be seen standing in front of a garlanded portrait of his late father, donning white clothes worn as part of mourning.
Chirag, who has pulled out of the NDA in Bihar vowing to oust Nitish Kumar from power while, paradoxically, helping his junior ally BJP in the state to form the next government, can be heard bantering with his associates about people having "different textures of hair".
"You people will do the cut and edit part. I will include a line about our candidates (in the video)," Chirag Paswan is purportedly seen as telling the camera crew while asking if a single or a double camera was being used.
Senior JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar, who is also the state''s Information and Public Relations Department Minister, came out with a statement dripping with sarcasm.
"It has been our parampara (tradition), our sanskaar (value system) to serve our fathers. But look at actors of the new generation who get busy with shooting immediately after their father''s death," Kumar said, without naming anybody, but obviously taking a swipe at Chirag''s unsuccessful attempt to make it in Bollywood before joining politics.
He also said the video presented "a shameful facet of dynasty politics where one''s own father becomes a tool for setting political agenda".
"Take to serving the people, mister. Politics is about hard reality, not the make-believe world of acting," Kumar added, twisting the knife.
The LJP chief came out with a flurry of tweets alleging that the controversy had been triggered at the behest of the Bihar chief minister to "divert public attention".
"I had to release the first list of my party candidates within six hours of my father''s death. I had to fulfil all my duties in capacity of the party president without stepping out of my home for 10 days. So I had no choice but to shoot the video for digital campaign," he tweeted.
"Do I have to prove to Nitish Kumar how much grief the death of Papa has caused me," Paswan asked indignantly in another tweet and added "I had been shooting videos on a daily basis. What other option did I have, at a time when campaign for elections was picking up".
"I had never imagined that the Chief Minister can stoop so low. I am appalled. This attempt at diverting public attention from the incident at Munger would not be successful," said the LJP chief referring to the violence that rocked the Bihar district Monday night during immersion of Durga idols, killing one person and injuring many.
Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal, whose party was said to be tacitly approving of Paswan''s rebellion before deciding to drop him like a hot potato, reacted with bemusement.
"I can only say Chirag Paswan is a fine actor. A reason why movies were his first choice," Jaiswal said with a smirk when asked about the video.
"The people of the state will never forgive this," asserted Paswan, ending his tweet with the hashtag "asambhavNitish", apparently seeking to assert that the incumbent chief minister''s return to power was "impossible".