| Lalu, Tejaswi |
Patna, July 10: Lalu Prasad has put off his son’s coronation, ostensibly to placate senior party leaders upset with their boss’s penchant to blood family members in politics.
Having scripted a political return for wife Rabri Devi, Lalu Prasad had, according to top RJD sources, decided to make his younger son Tejaswi Yadav, 23, the youth wing chief of the party.
Rabri, foisted on the chief minister’s chair by Lalu in 1997 after he was chargesheeted in the fodder scam, had gone back to looking after the family once she lost the Assembly elections in 2010. But Lalu paved the way for her return by getting her a berth in the Bihar Legislative Council this year.
The sources said Tejaswi, who had extensively campaigned for his mother in the Raghopur and Sonepur Assembly constituencies in 2010 — she lost from both — was to have been anointed the RJD’s youth wing president at the party’s foundation day on July 5.
The sources said Lalu had decided to take a leaf out of one-time friend Mulayam Singh Yadav’s book and groom Tejaswi as a possible leader of the RJD in Bihar, where the party has been floundering following successive electoral losses. Mulayam scripted a stunning return of his Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh through his son Akhikesh Yadav.
But Tejaswi, a professional cricketer who is part of the Delhi Daredevils IPL team, was asked to stay away from the July 5 function and the current youth wing chief, Sheochandra Ram, who attended the event, was signalled to carry on in his post. “I have full faith in the party’s leadership. I am honestly doing the assignment that the party has given me,” Ram said, without mentioning Tejaswi’s name.
The sources said what led to Lalu’s change of mind were the murmurs of discontent in the party. Senior MPs, particularly Raghubansh Prasad Singh and Jagadanand Singh, were opposed to Lalu “promoting” the family at a time when the RJD is locked in a grim battle with the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U).
These leaders had also silently opposed Lalu’s decision to name the New Delhi party office after his wife last year; they were also not in favour of Lalu getting Rabri Devi elected to the Legislative Council in May. But their opposition was in vain as Lalu went ahead with both decisions.
“We took a conscious decision to skip important party functions to send across the message that the organisation could not be revived if Lalu turned a blind eye to the ground realities,” a senior party leader told The Telegraph. “We still believe Lalu has the potential to turn the tables on Nitish. But we acted tough to desist him from making suicidal moves in this hour of crisis.”
The three Lok Sabha members — Raghubansh Prasad, Jagadanand and Umashankar Singh — kept skipping important meetings convened by the RJD boss over the past few months. The reason for Umashankar playing truant was understandable for the Maharajganj MP has lost his pride of place in the hierarchy with Lalu inducting his (Umashankar’s) rival, Prabhunath Singh — a fellow Rajput from Maharajganj — in the party.
Jagadanand Singh, however, attended the foundation day function following an “assurance” from the boss “to take senior leaders into confidence while taking important decisions”. Raghubansh Prasad had openly stated that he was unhappy with the party’s style of functioning.
Lalu Prasad is at present on yatra in north Bihar’s Sitamarhi, Samastipur and some other districts of Mithila region, meeting people and organising public meetings to “expose” Nitish rule.
“He has been pulling big crowds. People are responding favourably to him,” said RJD national general secretary Vijay Krishna. “We are on the right track now. Nitish faced the heat over the lack of electricity and drinking water in several areas he visited during the last phase of his Seva Yatra. The people now are looking towards Laluji.”