Patna, Sept. 12: The induction of Lalu Prasad’s son, Tejaswi, in the RJD after Ram Vilas Paswan nominated his ward, Chirag, as the LJP parliamentary board president triggered a few posers in political circles, but promoting progenies in politics is a tradition in the state.
The grapevine has it that the LJP chief has been readying Chirag — morphing himself from an actor to a politician — to contest from his erstwhile bastion Hajipur in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The embattled RJD boss has initiated his cricketer son with the long-term goal to pass on his party’s baton to Tejaswi like Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav did with Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh.
When Lalu hinted at his Parivartan Rally on May 15 that he would goad his progenies into his party, his friend-turned-foe chief minister Nitish Kumar had guffawed, “Earlier, it was S-1, S-2. Now it is T-1, T-2.”
Political observers had interpreted S-1 and S-2 as Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav — Lalu’s brothers-in-law who called the shots during the Lalu-Rabri regime. T-1 and T-2, they felt, meant Tejaswi and Tej Pratap — the two sons of Lalu-Rabri.
Nitish is in the miniscule group of leaders who have kept politics insulated from their family members, but promoting progenies in politics in Bihar is as old as the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, initiating Indira Gandhi in the craft of national politics.
The first Bihar chief minister, S.K. Sinha, effectively set in motion the trend. He recommended the next in command in his cabinet, A.N. Sinha’s son S.N. Sinha, as the member of the provisional Parliament in 1950. Chhote Sahib, as S.N. Sinha was reverentially referred to (his father A.N. Sinha was called bade sahib), went on to represent the south Bihar’s Aurangabad seat nine times in the Lok Sabha. He became the state’s chief minister in the late 1980s.
S.N. Sinha’s son, Nikhil Kumar, a third generation leader in the family, is now the governor of Kerala.
The state has countless examples of veteran leaders promoting their wards in politics. Suresh Ram, the son of first generation Dalit leader Jagjeevan Ram, became a state cabinet minister in 1969. His daughter, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, hardly needs an introduction. She represents her father’s pocket borough of Sasaram seat.
The practice of promoting relatives is neither confined to a particular party, nor a particular spell of time. The present day Bihar has several leaders promoting their wards.
Erstwhile Congress stalwart and former chief minister Jagannath Mishra’s son Nitish Mishra is the rural development minister in Nitish’s cabinet. Jagannath was initiated in the Congress by his famous brother L.N. Mishra. The latter was the railway minister in early 1970s.
Nobody knows if the state’s socialist icon and then home minister, Ramanand Tiwary, promoted his son, Shivanand Tiwary, in politics. But Shivanand, the JD(U) Rajya Sabha member, has emerged as a powerful leader. His son, Mantu Tiwary, an RJD activist, is vying to contest the Shahpur Assembly seat, the family pocket borough since the Ramanand days in central Bihar.
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh’s two sons, Sumit Singh and Ajay Pratap, are MLAs from Jamui and Chakai. Narendra himself is the son of late Shrikrishna Singh, a powerful minister in the 1960s.
The BJP MP, C.P. Thakur, fought protracted silent battle with his senior party colleagues earlier this year to make his son, Vivek Thakur, a member of Bihar Legislative Council.
What in fact generated a debate on promoting the family members in politics was the way Lalu made Rabri Devi — a homemaker — the chief minister in July 1997 on the eve of going to jail in connection with a fodder scam case.
“There is little objectionable about the manner Lalu has been promoting Tejaswi or Ram Vilas backing Chirag. They have to undergo the grind of the test from the electorate. They can survive only if the people accept them as their leaders,” said the RJD general secretary, Vijay Krishna.