Lalu’s feuding sons may spoil grand alliance’s prospects in Bihar

Bihar

The feuding sons of jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad are likely to spoil the party game plan in Bihar having a total of 40 Lok Sabha seats. Prasad’s two sons, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, who were both ministers in the previous grand alliance government, are now fighting to exercise control over the organisation.

The overall political rivalry between the two brothers has turned so serious that Tej Pratap has now announced that he would contest against his father-in-law Chandrika Rai in Saran which the former describes as his family’s political turf. Tej Pratap has filed a divorce petition against his wife of six months Aishwarya Rai in the local court, indicating his relations with his in-laws.

As such, Tej Pratap wanted his party not to give ticket to his father-in-law but the party ignored his demand and fielded Rai against his wishes. The party’s logic is that with party chief Prasad currently serving his prison term and his wife Rabri Devi reluctant to contest elections, there is nothing wrong in giving ticket to Rai who has been a loyal party worker, represented the local assembly seat several times, enjoys holds over the local voters and is closely related to the family.

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But Prasad’s elder son views it as a matter of prestige. An irked Tej Pratap has not only announced his intention to contest against his father-in-law as an independent but also formed a front nicknamed ‘Lalu-Rabri Morcha’ after the first name of his parents while announcing his decision to campaign against the party rebels in 20 LS seats—the number of seats the RJD got in the seat-sharing deal. He has refused to listen to the appeal of his mother Rabri Devi while his father is not around to convince him.

Initially, Tej Pratap remained silent but of late the political ambition within him has started galloping very fast and he too wants to have significant control over the organization. However, his views were not sought in deciding the number of allies and party candidates which have irked him too much. Recently, he demanded party tickets for two of his loyalists for Jehanabad and Sheor Lok Sabha seats but the party politely rejected his request citing limited number of seats under the seat sharing arrangement, leaving the Prasad’s elder son rebellious.

Political experts say the continuing political feud between the two brothers may impact the party’s plan to put up a concerted fight against the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The RJD, it may be noted here, has formed a grand alliance giving up significant number of its seat to accommodate as many as five parties which include the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of former federal minister Upendra Kushwaha and the Hindustani Awam Morcha headed by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. The last two parties were part of the NDA till recently.

The victory the RJD urgently needs is underlined from the fact that the party has agreed to contest on only 20 LS seats this time—the lowest in its history. Even in the last LS polls, the RJD had contested on 27, sparing the remaining 12 for the Congress and one for Tariq Anwar who contested on an NCP ticket. The RJD has all along been saying that it’s a fight to save the Constitution and in a bid to ensure victory, it has decided to take a cut in its share of seats.

But the rebellion by Prasad’s elder son has not gone down well among the masses although he doesn’t have significant following and is basically a religious man—loving to take refuge in the company of Krishna and sporting a big sandal mark on his head. Also, he has been routinely paying visits to Mathura and Vrindavan, and taking rounds of mythological Govardhan hill as a mark of respect to Krishna. “Although this won’t impact much on the party’s traditional vote bank but it will indeed give an opportunity to the opposition to take potshots at the party,” commented a political expert.

As such, the RJD chief has always relied much on his younger son Tejahswi which can well be explained by the fact that he was appointed the deputy chief minister in the previous grand alliance government against his elder son who was made just a minister. In due course, the RJD chief taught Tejashwi the basic tricks of the trade and quietly transferred power to him when it became apparent that he could be sent in jail in the fodder scam. Prasad was eventually sent to jail in December 2017. He is currently lodged in Ranchi jail serving his prison sentence in the multi-million dollar fodder scam.

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