The Election Commission of India on Tuesday wrote to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) factions-led by Chirag Paswan and Pashupati Kumar Paras to appear for a personal hearing regarding their contention for the party name and symbol, asking the two to submit any additional documents by 5pm on November 28, officials familiar with the matter said.
The two have been asked to appear at 3pm on November 29 and directed them to submit any written statements before that time.
The LJP has been in a crisis since June, 2021 when a faction headed by Hajipur MP Paras removed his estranged nephew Paswan as party chief, prompting the latter’s loyalists to respond by stripping five rebel parliamentarians of the party’s primary membership.
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The party, which has six MPs but no MLAs, split after the five lawmakers rebelled against Paswan’s leadership and chose Paras as the new leader of the parliamentary party.
The MPs consequently met Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, and the Lok Sabha secretariat recognised Paras as the parliamentary party chief hours later.
Paswan has already shown his willingness to take up a legal battle to regain control of the party.
The LJP factions were barred from using the party name and symbol last year until the dispute between the rival groups to control the political entity is resolved.
“Neither of the two groups led by Pashupati Kumar Paras and [the] other led by Chirag Paswan shall be permitted to use the name of the party Lok Janshakti Party and neither of the two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol bungalow,” the Commission said in its order.
The decision came a day after the Paswan faction announced that they will be contesting the upcoming two assembly bypolls in Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan in Bihar. The seats were earlier represented by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which will also be contesting the constituencies.
The Commission said that it had taken into account the letters sent by both the factions and expedited its decision in view of the upcoming by polls in Bihar, which were scheduled to be held on October 30, 2021. Both factions had claimed the exclusive use of the party name LJP and the symbol bungalow.
“The Commission takes note of the urgency involved with regard to use of party symbol and party name due to the schedule of the bye-elections announced. Accordingly, in order to place both the rival groups on even keel and to protect their rights and interests, and going by the past precedence, the Commission hereby makes the Interim Order, to cover the purpose of the current Bye-elections, including 78-Kusheshwar Asthan (SC) and 164-Tarapur Assembly Constituencies in Bihar, and to continue till the final determination of the dispute in the matter,” the Commission said in its order.