RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, buoyed by the spectacular performance of his party in the recent state assembly elections, is hoping to bag the chief minister’s post even as the Nitish Kumar led new government starts its fresh journey.
The 31-year-old scion of the Yadav family, once spearheaded by his father Lalu Prasad Yadav, is now exploring the possibility of engineering a defection in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents, including Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar. Smaller parties of the alliance like the Hindustani Awam Morcha, led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikassheel Insaan Party of Mukesh Sahni, each having four MLAs, remain soft targets. Tejashwi is more than willing to fish in troubled waters when everything is not hunky-dory within the Bihar NDA.
RJD leader Shyam Rajak had recently claimed that 17 JD(U) leaders are willing to join the RJD, but said “their en masse defection has been put on hold since the RJD is hopeful of more MLAs joining them”.
“The number of defectors would rise to an extent that the split within JD(U) will be tenable under the anti-defection law,” Rajak had said.
Tejashwi, the youngest son of the incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Yadav, has launched a full-fledged attack on the Nitish Kumar government with a known aggression while chalking out his future strategy — with or without allies. As in the past, Tejashwi minces no words as he takes the political battle to his opponents’ territory.
RJD predicts a mid-term poll
All the efforts of Tejashwi Yadav are based on the premise that the present NDA government would not complete its full term and would crumble because of internal conflicts. The possibility of a mid-term election may seem far-fetched as of now, but since sparks have already started flying between the two major allies of NDA — BJP and JD (U) — Tejashwi is not completely wrong in his assessment.
Tejashwi has asked his party workers to start preparing for mid-term polls, saying fresh elections could take place “any time even in 2021”.
Tejashwi claims the alliance between BJP and JD(U) would be severed once the BJP “accomplished its task through Nitish”.
The young RJD leader has also toughened his stand on the possible re-induction of Nitish into the Grand Alliance (Mahagatbandhan).
Despite Tejashwi’s apparent impatience with the present government, it is generally believed that the BJP will not trouble Nitish beyond a point till the assembly election in Uttar Pradesh gets over in 2022. The relationship between BJP and JD (U) will also depend on how the saffron party performs electorally in states like West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala this year.
Tejashwi cheers up party workers
Despite tall claims by RJD leaders on the party’s future, Tejashwi is confronted with the task of keeping the mood upbeat within the party.
Several political analysts share the view that Tejashwi should be seen more on ground if he really wants to have a better connect with grassroots party workers, leaders and, of course, common people.
Analysts say it is true that Tejashwi was able to catch the imagination of youths and their parents by promising 10 lakh jobs if his party returned to power in the recent polls, but it was more like a ‘fast food’ politics and the same assurance could not work time and again.
Tejashwi has to think ‘out of the box’ if he really wants to keep the enthusiasm of his party workers and leaders intact, say experts.
The young Yadav will embark on ‘Dhanyabad Yatra’ (thanks giving march) and criss-cross the state after ‘Makar Sankranti’ to thank people for giving overwhelming support to his party in the state elections where RJD cornered 75 seats. Tejashwi, however, will have to roll out similar drives in future to keep the party workers energetic enough to face a possible mid-term poll. Yadav will have to be more consistent in his approach since NDA leaders sometimes brand him a ‘migrant’ leader for ‘disappearing’ from the state suddenly.
After many RJD candidates lost the election by very thin margins, Tejashwi accused the ruling NDA of colluding with election officers “for rigging the poll results”. He repeatedly claimed that the mandate was not for Nitish but was for the Mahagatbandhan (Grand Alliance), even though it was ‘denied’ the power. The NDA with 125 seats formed the government with a wafer-thin majority (the magic number is 122). The Mahagatbandhan followed closely with 110 seats.
Tejashwi projecting the Grand Alliance as a homogeneous group
In a bid to showcase the Grand Alliance as a more homogeneous group than the NDA,
Tejashwi has declared that all its allies will boycott the upcoming budget session in the state assembly and lay siege to residences of the chief minister and his deputies if proceedings of the state assembly were curtailed in the name of facilitating COVID-19 vaccination.
The joint programme of the Grand Alliance’s allies would not have been announced at a better time because the NDA in Bihar is largely perceived as an unstable alliance. To showcase their strength, Tejashwi announced that all allies will create a human chain on January 30 in support of the ongoing farmer agitation. More such joint programmes could be expected in the future.
Tejashwi trying to make RJD an ‘A to Z’ party
Tejashwi has one major work cut out for him that is winning the confidence of all castes.
The RJD was always known as a Muslim-Yadav party till Tejashwi made some efforts to change this reputation.
Of the 144 seats, where the RJD had put up its candidates in the last state elections, Muslims and Yadavs got tickets in 17 and 58 seats respectively. A total of 12 seats went to upper castes. Tejashwi, however, has to give more representation to all castes in ticket distribution as well as in the party organisation to win their confidence. Now that he has grown beyond the shadow of his father, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his social justice politics, Tejashwi could very well do it.
Right now, Bihar is a game of wait and watch!