Updated: June 6, 2022 7:23:35 am
Last week, the RJD MLAs and MLCs authorised Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav to take important policy decisions of the party.
The move would mean that Tejashwi can now, among other things, take decisions regarding the party’s Lok Sabha and Assembly election candidates or its Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council nominees. This would also mean he can allocate posts to party leaders.
Tejashwi, 32, might already have been taking all these decisions without such an “authorisation” by his colleagues, but the move was clearly aimed at giving it the RJD’s imprimatur and declaring him officially as its unchallenged leader, even as his father and the party national president, the ailing Lalu Prasad, could continue to guide them.
While the move has the backing of senior RJD leaders, one person who continues to be in the sulk is Tejashwi’s elder brother, Tej Pratap Yadav, former health minister. Tej, 34, recently tried, unsuccessfully, to get the party’s Rajya Sabha nomination. However, there was no question of the party preferring him over Misa Bharati, eldest daughter of Lalu and Rabri Devi, for an Upper House berth. He also could not have been picked as the party’s second Rajya Sabha candidate as the nomination of two siblings would have been politically disastrous for it. Besides, Tej has never really been considered as a serious politician warranting a nomination to the House of Elders.
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Tej has had made several bids to bargain with the RJD as well his family. He has formed apolitical fora such as the Dharmnirpeksh Sevak Sangh (DSS), Lalu-Rabri Morcha and Chhatra Janshakti Parishad. The DSS, formed mainly to ridicule RSS, barely progressed beyond social media with a handful of followers, mainly youth. The Lalu-Rabri Morcha, formed ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, was a forum that put up three Independent candidates against the RJD. However, it also failed to cut much ice with the party or the family.
Tej’s latest apolitical venture, the Janshakti Parishad, is his another attempt to draw some supporters at the expense of his own party. He has also hit the ground in this bid, meeting farmers, labourers and other people from the OBC and Scheduled Caste communities, eating bhuja (dry snacks) or drinking sattu (roasted gram flour) with them.
A senior RJD leader said: “The party has now reconciled to Tej’s rebellion. Who knows, he can float his own party in near future. But the fact remains he is not taken as a serious leader. He is taken as an elder brother who is desperate in his demand for his political share, mainly seeking the right to give Lok Sabha and Assembly tickets to some of his supporters. But the party may not concede it to him. He can still get some power but has to be on the fringes. Tejashwi is now the undisputed RJD leader and Tej has to accept it fast.”
Lalu, who has been ailing and in and out of jail after his conviction in fodder scam cases, has not been active in party politics for the last five years now. He last campaigned in the 2015 Assembly polls. Though the party does seek his advice and guidance on important matters such as the selection of candidates for elections to various Houses at the state and central levels, it is Tejashwi who has been calling the shots. Lalu would not interfere in the party’s day-to-day affairs and has allowed Tejashwi to take virtually all the decisions. As Tej knows his father is still the last word on key party decisions, he maintains his outreach to him for political sustenance. But Lalu, who has carefully chosen Tejashwi as his political heir, knows how much he can concede to his elder son.
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