A master strategist that he is, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad is poised to turn the handicap of desertions into an advantage for his son and political heir Tejaswi Prasad Yadav. A clutch of senior leaders walking out of the party over the past few days has hit hard the RJD’s fortunes in the state.
Party sources confirmed on Thursday that 24-year-old Tejaswi, the younger of Lalu’s two sons, is set to be the party’s “other star campaigner”, apart from the RJD chief himself. “We are requisitioning a helicopter for Tejaswi to enable him to undertake campaign tours across Bihar,” said Bhola Yadav, who is handling poll tour logistics for the RJD.
Tejaswi is set to commence his campaign tour on Friday with a two-day trip to Revelganj, part of Saran (north Bihar) Lok Sabha constituency, where his mother Rabri Devi is the RJD nominee. “Once we get the chopper, we’ll finalise Tejaswi’s detailed programme,” Bhola Yadav told HT.
RJD sources see a silver lining in the exit of top leaders like secretary general Ram Kripal Yadav and Bihar legislative council leader Ghulam Ghaus, both aggrieved at missing the party ticket. “It has made it easier for Laluji to give Tejaswi, and to a lesser extent his elder son Tej Pratap, a bigger role,” said a state-level RJD leader.
Those who remain in the RJD are largely reconciled to the idea of the leadership baton passing on to Lalu’s children. “Tejaswi is the RJD’s young face. His election campaign tours will attract youth,” said RJD general secretary Babban Yadav.
Bihar RJD office secretary Chandeshwar Prasad Singh admitted that Tejaswi is expected to figure on the party’s top campaigners’ list, which has to be submitted to the election commission by March 19. “Tejaswi has already toured all the 38 districts twice. I expect that apart from Laluji, he will cover all 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar ,” Singh said.
About Tej Pratap, the RJD functionary said: “He too will visit some areas.” The muted response was indicative of a subtle power play among Lalu’s children.