The two Lok Janshakti Party factions headed by Chirag Paswan and Pashupati Kumar Paras moved swiftly on Tuesday to take control of the party as a national executive meeting of the organisation expelled five MPs while the Paras-led group removed Paswan as its president.
In his first reaction after his paternal uncle Paras ousted him as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha with the support of the five MPs, Paswan likened the organisation to a mother who should not be "betrayed".
He also shared on Twitter a letter he had written to him on March 29 that highlighted Paras' alleged indifference to the party's agenda and conduct against its interests, and had urged him to fulfil his responsibilities to it and their family following the death of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan.
With the Paswan family and the party controlled by it now split down the middle only eight months after the death of Chirag Paswan's father, the two warring groups are now rallying the members of its organisation to their cause as both factions claim to represent the Lok Janshakti Party.
While five of its six Lok Sabha MPs have sided with Paras, the group headed by Chirag Paswan called a virtual meeting of the party's national executive in which 41 of 76 members were present, its Bihar unit working president Raju Tiwari said.
It was unanimously decided to expel the five MPs from the LJP for their "anti-party" activities, he told reporters.
It was a hurriedly called meeting, Tiwari said, claiming that many other members also extended their support to the decision and expressed faith in Chirag Paswan's leadership.
The group led by his paternal uncle claimed that a decision to remove Chirag Paswan, MP from Jamui, as party president was taken in an emergency meeting of the national executive in line with the principal of "one man, one post".
It was not shared as to how many members attended the meeting.
Paras, however, termed as "laughable" the decision of the national executive meeting headed by Chirag Paswan to expel him and four other MPs from the party after the Lok Sabha speaker recognised him as its leader in the House.
He claimed that the decision at the national executive meeting headed by his faction was in accordance with the LJP's constitutional requirement of "one person, one post", and reiterated the validity of its decision to remove his nephew from the post of party president.
A meeting of the party's national council will be called in five days to elect a new president, Paras said.
Chirag Paswan is expected to address a press conference on Wednesday, with the battle for the control of the party likely to reach the Election Commission soon.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has recognised Paras' election as the leader of the party in the House.
In a tweet, Chirag Paswan said he made efforts to keep the party founded by his father and his family together but failed.
People are supreme in a democracy, he said and thanked those who have kept faith in the party.
The letter he had written to Paras, the youngest brother of his father, highlighted his uncle's unhappiness over a number of issues, including his elevation as the party president.
Chirag Paswan believes that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United has worked to engineer the split as it wants to finish him off politically following his strident campaign against the state's ruling party in the 2020 assembly elections, sources close to him said.
By painting his uncle as "power hungry" whose conduct "hurt" his father when he was ailing, the young leader seeks to galavanise the LJP's core support of the Paswan community around him.
In his letter, he also said that Prince Raj, a party MP and his cousin who has sided with Paras, was allegedly blackmailed by a woman over the allegations of "sexual exploitation". While Paras ignored it, he asked Raj to go the police. There was no reaction from his cousin.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the principal member of the NDA of which both the JD-U and LJP are constituents, has officially maintained silence over the implosion within the party.