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Lalu is RJD president for 10th time, Tejashwi unanimous CM face for 2020

Lalu had worked in the background to fashion the consensus in the party after his initial effort to elevate Tejashwi was opposed by a few of senior leaders.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2017 22:27 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
RJD,Lalu Prasad,Tejashwi Prasad Yadav
RJD chief Lalu Prasad being garlanded by supporters after he was re-elected as party national president at the party's National Council meeting in Patna on Tuesday. (PTI)

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Tuesday elected Lalu Prasad as its national president for a record 10th consecutive time and unanimously nominated his younger son and leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate for the next elections.

The RJD’s resolution endorsing Tejashwi as the new leader of the party ended all speculations and confirmed that the former deputy chief minister would be Lalu’s heir apparent. It also signaled, that the party president had worked in the background to fashion the consensus, after his initial effort was opposed by a few senior leaders.

Tejashwi’s name as the next chief ministerial candidate was announced to the top leadership of the national council, including the party’s national vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who had registered his dissent over the idea of Tejashwi’s elevation.

Another senior leader, Abdul Bari Siddiqui who had expressed reservations over Tejashwi’s elevation as CM candidate, was absent from the meeting. Insiders claimed that Siddiqui was away as there was a death in his family in Darbhanga.

The national council meeting and the open session saw the RJD chief, Tejashwi, former chief minister Rabri Devi and other leaders going hammer and tongs against PM Narandra Modi and chief minister Nitish Kumar. The RJD’s family alleged that the BJP-led government was trying to end reservations and was responsible for farmers’ woes across the country.

“Has black money been repatriated from abroad? What happened to the promise of ensuring higher income of farmers, I ask Modi and Amit Shah,” Lalu said, adding that Modi had hypnotised people of India during the 2014 parliamentary elections by making a slew of false promises to come to power.

“The charm of Modi is waning now. It is time to throw out both the central and state government,” he urged workers.

Tejashwi was even more aggressive, saying he would not be scared of the BJP-led NDA government’s alleged dirty tricks to frame him in false corruption cases, or harassment by the income tax department, Enforcement Directorate (ED) or CBI. He took potshots at chief minister Nitish Kumar, saying he would go down in history as a CM who cheated the people’s mandate to realign with the BJP.

“The ruling JD(U)-BJP in Bihar has once again gone to its old tricks of trying to portray how RJD’s 15 year rule was of misgovernance. Has Bihar now progressed? In the last four months since Nitish aligned with BJP, not a single infrastructure project has come up. There is gang rape and kidnapping, while prohibition has become a farce with liquor being sold in the open,” he said.

He added that the JD(U) strongman was only interested in clinging on to the CM’s post and had totally surrendered before BJP, despite having vowed to make India “Sangh mukt” (free of RSS).

“Nitish is so clever that he hid the fact that a criminal case was pending against him. Even Rahul Gandhi was not in the know of it before I told him at my recent meeting recently,” Tejashwi said, trying to send across a point that Kumar has no right to talk of parliamentary ethics.

Incidentally, Rabri Devi drew applause during her speech targeting PM Modi and chief minister in Bhojpuri and also openly declaring that she would not respond to the summons of ED and CBI to appear before them in person. “I have appeared before the income tax department once. That is all. No more. If they (read ED) have business with me, let them come to Bihar and Patna to question me,” she said, adding that she and her family were not scared of the federal agencies.

The CBI has named Lalu, Tejashwi and Rabri in an FIR in the land for hotels scam. Rabri has been summoned a number of times by the ED but hasn’t responded. Lalu and Tejashwi have been questioned by ED and CBI.

Lalu with his trademark wit also said he was not scared of going to jail as he has been incarcerated in the same prison that he built during his stint as chief minister.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 22:27 IST