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Don’t dilute 2024 agenda, says Tejashwi as RJD differences come to fore

Warning party leaders against speaking out of turn, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, who also attended the meeting along with veteran leader Sharad Yadav, announced that only Tejashwi would comment on matters related to the party's policy or other important issues.

Tejashwi Yadav and Lalu Prasad at the RJD national executive meet in Delhi. (ANI Photo)

ON A day internal differences clouded the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s national executive meeting in Delhi, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav appealed to party leaders to not allow personal differences to “dilute” the larger goal of defeating the BJP, saying such instances put the party on the defensive.

Warning party leaders against speaking out of turn, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, who also attended the meeting along with veteran leader Sharad Yadav, announced that only Tejashwi would comment on matters related to the party’s policy or other important issues.

The remarks came as Lalu’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, who is also a minister in the Bihar government, left the party red-faced with a public outburst against senior RJD leader Shyam Rajak.

Rashtriya Janata Dal’s national executive meeting in Delhi (ANI Photo)

Leaving the meeting midway, Tej Pratap told reporters, “When he was asked about the timing of the event, Shyam Rajak abused my PA and my sister. I will make the audio clip public and show how such RSS people have been given positions in the organisation. I am not going to listen to abuse.”

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Responding to the allegations, Rajak said, “I am a Dalit. I can only listen, not speak out against powerful people.” Later, he reported unwell and was taken to a private hospital.

Tej Pratap’s tirade added to the woes of the RJD, which was already strained as the party’s Bihar unit president Jagadanand Singh – whose son Sudhakar Singh became the second Cabinet minister to exit the grand alliance government earlier this month, purportedly over differences with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar — skipped the national executive.

Sudhakar, who attended the meeting, refused to comment on his father’s absence, saying the party’s national spokesperson could comment on the matter.

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In their speeches, Lalu and Tejashwi appeared to address the dissonant chords which threatened to sideline the stated agenda of chalking out a political roadmap for the party, among the strongest votaries of Opposition unity in the run-up to the 2024 general election.

“We need to understand one thing. Perhaps I may not be able to keep everyone happy, or it is also possible that I may not be happy with everyone. But in the larger challenge and struggle, all of us, all of you sitting here, are together. I may not like someone, someone may not like me. This is human nature. But I want to appeal with folded hands to everyone, those sitting here and elsewhere, please do not let the agenda get diluted or changed. We are going to fight a big battle in 2024. We need everyone’s cooperation. Our fight is to save the country. Small differences force us to get defensive instead of attacking,” Tejashwi said.

Referring to the fresh CBI chargesheet against Lalu in the alleged land-for-jobs scam, Tejashwi said the RJD supremo was being harassed as he has “refused to surrender” before the BJP. The Opposition, he asserted, should be “fearless” in its fight against the RSS-BJP.

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Delhi is the capital of the country. We want to tell our friends in the Opposition, don’t be scared, don’t lose hope, we shall fight and win. We are working on it… There are cases against our entire family. ED, CBI, all agencies are being misused to lodge cases. Any leader who speaks out is facing ED, CBI, income tax,” he said.

“The biggest challenge facing the country is the RSS, which had no role in the country’s freedom struggle and spent all its time serving the interests of the British and being servile to them. Its agenda is to disrupt communal harmony and we need to fight against them ideologically,” Tejashwi said.

RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said the national executive also saw discussions on resolutions on the country’s political situation, foreign policy and economy. The resolutions will be adopted at a meeting of the party’s national council on Monday, where Lalu’s re-election as the party’s national president will also be formally announced.

On the roadmap for Opposition unity, Jha said the RJD leadership feels that the Opposition can offer an effective alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by taking up issues that impact the lives of common people. “There will be discussions on issues. Modi’s alternative are issues. Should Modi’s alternative be a bigger Modi or issues that affect our lives? It is not about replacing a bottle of shampoo with another,” Jha said.

First published on: 10-10-2022 at 04:30 IST
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