In what is being seen by many as another page in the chapter of a silent turf war between Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav, jailed RJD chief Lalu Perasad’s sons, elder brother Tej Pratap remained absent from a crucial party meeting on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Tej Pratap said that “no power on earth” can “underestimate” his value in the party, which is seen as a dig at Tejashwi, who is leading the party in Lalu’s absence.
Tejashwi, the younger of the siblings and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, attended Tuesday’s meeting, chaired by former Bihar CM and their mother Rabri Devi, as did other senior party leaders. The meeting was aimed at discussing preparations for the Lok Sabha polls.
Tejashwi later tried to play down Tej Pratap’s absence from the meet by saying that the latter had been tired after a visit to Mathura. Tej Pratap blamed the “BJP-RSS forces” of trying to create a rift between the siblings. In an attempt to scotch speculations of an emerging rift, Tej Pratap on Thursday told the media, “Why should anyone sideline me, and how can they do that? My father is here, he is in jail. Some people in the party are spreading rumours. This is a ploy by the RSS and BJP”.
But even that is being read by many as a signal to his brother —that Lalu is still the party chief. Either way, a source in RJD told The Indian Express, the brothers’ actions are not sending a good message to the party rank and file.
The source said, “Lalu Prasad had given enough signal on who would succeed him when Tejashwi was made the deputy chief minister after the Grand Alliance’s victory in 2015, while Tej Pratap, even though he was the elder, was made a minister. (In an attempt to demonstrate the hierarchy between them) Tej later called himself a charioteer, Krishna to Arjun — or his brother Tejashwi – and (yesterday) called himself Balram to Tejashwi’s Krishna.”
Too many overt and covert posturings are not doing any good to the morale of party workers, the RJD leader said.
A party insider said Tejashwi taking out a cycle yatra two months ago and Tej Pratap reacting with a visit to Sitab Diara (JP’s village) is seen more as a tussle between the two than an attempt at strengthening the party. The RJD leader said Tej Pratap should have attended Tuesday’s meet, as it included senior leaders such as Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagdanand Singh, and M A A Fatmi.
“At a time when most senior leaders agree that it won’t be easy to take on the BJP in 2019, Tej and Tejashwi have to come together, especially at a time when the party chief is in and out of jail,” a senior RJD leader who attended Tuesday’s meeting said.