Tejas takes a leaf out of dad's caste politics

Tejashwi Prasad Yadav would pursue the "winning formula" of his father Lalu Prasad, who turned the 2015 Assembly polls into a caste battle when he grabbed a statement of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, alleging that the RSS was out to finish reservation for the Dalits and the Backward Class.

By Dipak Mishra in Patna
  • Published 12.09.18
  •  
Former chief minister Rabri Devi and her son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav at the RJD meeting in Patna on Tuesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna: Tejashwi Prasad Yadav would pursue the "winning formula" of his father Lalu Prasad, who turned the 2015 Assembly polls into a caste battle when he grabbed a statement of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, alleging that the RSS was out to finish reservation for the Dalits and the Backward Class.

On Tuesday, after a meeting with RJD leaders at 10 Circular Road, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Tejashwi parroted the words of Lalu that he had uttered in 2015.

"The BJP and the RSS want the Nagpuri law (RSS headquarters) to be implemented. They want to finish reservation for the Dalits and the Backward Class. They want to reassert the caste system," he said, demanding the release of the caste census.

Tejashwi refused to support demands for reservation for the upper castes made by LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and termed the September 6 Bharat Bandh called by fringe upper caste groups as a "BJP-sponsored show".

"Let the Union government release the caste census. We should know which caste works as labourers, who are landless and who lives in one room," he said. He added that the national vice-president of RJD Shivanand Tiwari and senior party leader Jagadanand Singh refused to say a word on reservation for the upper castes.

"What has poverty to do with reservation? Reservation was given because of untouchability," Tiwari said. Tejashwi accused the BJP government of not being sincere towards the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

"First, they did not plea the case against it in the Supreme Court. After the anger among Dalits exploded, they brought a bill in Parliament. But they refused to adhere to our demand to put the act in Schedule 9 so that it cannot be tampered like reservation in Tamil Nadu. We will stand firmly with the Dalits and the Backward Class," Tejashwi said.

When Lalu was in power, a controversy had erupted about his alleged statement, " bhura bal saaf karo".

It was interpreted that Lalu had declared that he would finish off the four upper castes - Bhumihads, Rajputs, Brahmins and Kayasthas. Lalu denied making such a statement and even tried to mend fences with the upper castes by promising 5 per cent upper caste reservation for the poor in party elections and by handing over substantial number of seats to a section of upper castes, particularly the Rajputs.

The ghost of the statement still hovers over the RJD. "It was a propaganda by the RSS. My father never said it," he said. Political pundits thought that the RJD would jump in and join the chorus as its allies Congress and Hindustani Awam Morcha had done the same. But the RJD preferred to remain loyal to the Lalu Prasad formula.

"The equation between the upper castes and the RJD is the same as it is between the Muslims and the BJP. Both parties know that the sections will not vote for them come what may. So, we are concentrating on Dalits," said a senior RJD leader.