| Tejaswi addresses the meeting in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Sept. 11: Embattled RJD boss Lalu Prasad today formally blooded his younger son Tejaswi in the party, raising doubts about the former chief minister’s prospects amid the lingering fodder scam hearing.
There was a striking similarity between the manners in which Lalu saddled his wife Rabri Devi with the chief minister’s task in 1997 and the way he initiated his son in the party today.
The RJD boss had got his wife sworn in as chief minister on the eve of his jail trip in connection with the same fodder scam (case number RC 20A/96). Similarly, he looked like passing on the party’s baton to Tejaswi when the CBI court is about to deliver its judgment in the same case.
Tejaswi’s baptism in the party was smooth. Hundreds of cadres greeted him with a 25kg marigold flower garland and well wishes. Clad in khadi kurta-pyjama, Tejaswi took to the dais amid chants of “Yuvraj Tejaswi zindabaad”.
Apparently, cautious to ensure the acceptance of his son in the party’s ranks, Lalu had drawn stalwarts from the Hindu as well as Muslim communities to shower praises on Tejaswi.
Not to forget Lalu’s elder son, Tej Pratap, was also on the dais. But the party’s who’s who easily figured out whom Lalu was passing the baton to. “Tejaswi is smart. He has played big tournaments, including the Indian Premier League (IPL). He is also a good orator,” said a senior RJD leader, adding, “Laluji has made the right choice. He has fielded a horse, who can win the race.”
Tejaswi, too, made sure he did not disappoint either the elders or the young cadres. “Do not call me a yuvraj (prince). I belong to the party that identifies with the poor and deprived sections in the hinterlands. Laluji has battled for the cause of the poor and minorities throughout his life. The son of the messiah of the poor can never be a yuvraj. I am grateful to my party’s elders and my father’s long-time associates for allowing me to work for the party. I need the elders’ blessings and guidance to strengthen the party,” he said.
Tejaswi made it a point to refer to chief minister Nitish Kumar as his chacha (uncle) in keeping with the bada bhai, chhota bhai (elder brother, younger brother) relationship between Lalu and Nitish.
“Nitish chacha fooled the Dalits and the backwards in the past. Now, he is trying to fool the Muslims. Our party’s primary goal is to safeguard the interests of the minorities, as Laluji has always taught us.”