Kolkata: RJD supremo Lalu Prasad must be a worried man. The much-emaciated veteran politician has an arduous task up ahead – it’s not giving a direction to an anti-BJP campaign at the national level or taking on his bete noire Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. The delicate endeavour lies within his own house.
Yes, his two sons Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav don’t seem to be on the same page and the latter makes no bones about taking swipes at his younger brother and even the RJD leadership given an opportunity. His latest Hitler barb against RJD president state secretary considered close to Tejashwi, Jagadanand Singh aggravates the tiff between the two brothers.
What started with Tejashwi missing from the RJD posters at the behest of his elder brother, is now taking a lethal turn with damaging political ramifications.
It is no secret that Tej didn’t take Tejashwi’s elevation in the party and the government (he was earlier Deputy CM in the Bihar government in alliance with Nitish Kumar) sportingly. Time and again he has expressed his disapproval if not in the public domain.
In fact, to be fair on Tejashwi, he donned the mantle of leadership in his father’s absence (when he was in jail) quite expeditiously. He singlehandedly took on the Nitish government and BJP. It may not be erroneous to say he has turned out to be RJD’s face for the future while his brother and sister Misa have been left sulking.
Lalu being an astute politician identified the gem and entrusted him with the responsibility of taking his ideology forward. On the contrary, Tej was mired in a marital dispute and Misa and her husband have been under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.
With Lalu himself on the wrong side of the law related to the fodder scam, he needed to cleanse the image of the party and Tejashwi was the ideal candidate to carry forward his legacy. Though Tejashwi too has faced allegations of graft, his way with the masses and sobriety earned him his father’s support.
But it is no surprise that both Tej and Misa weren’t in accordance with their father’s decision. And now too much water has flown under the bridge with Tej candidly exhorting his lieutenants to cry foul — this can only exacerbate in the coming days unless Lalu steps in to engineer a truce between the two warring brothers.
In fact, Misa herself had admitted in the past that there were explicit differences between her two brothers though she later denied it. But the rift has only widened over the years.
It will be an uphill task for the former Bihar CM to mediate successfully — ego clash and political ambitions would continue to fuel bickerings between Tejashwi and Tej-Misa. Though both Tejashwi and Tej appear to refute any squabble as of now, it is unlikely that either will acquiesce to the other in the long run.
Lalu should also beware of any kind of machination by Nitish and the saffron party to make a dent into the setup he formed over the years. Lalu’s recent soft stance towards Nitish (the man who broke off with his party to ally with BJP) is ample proof that the chink in his armour is wide in the open.
In the broader national scenario, a divided RJD will lack credibility as a force to reckon with against Narendra Modi in the 2024 general elections.
So, smell the coffee and wake up Laluji! Set your house in order first before challenging a mightier force.