RJD primes guns for its August 27 Patna rally but Lalu’s arrest fears keep party on edge
The RJD’s top leadership wants the ‘BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao’ rally in Patna to be held at any cost, so that party chief Lalu Prasad could portray CBI raids on his house as an outcome of the BJP’s ‘vendetta politics’.india Updated: Jul 09, 2017 20:10 IST
Although shaken by the CBI raids on Friday at the residence of party chief Lalu Prasad and registering of FIRs against him and his younger son, deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, in connection with the ‘land for railways hotels’ scam, the RJD leadership has decided to go ahead with its all India anti-BJP rally here on August 27.
Top RJD sources said the party’s proposed ‘ BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao’ rally would be held at any cost so that Lalu and his family could portray themselves as victims of the BJP’s ‘vendetta politics’ for trying to forge opposition unity ahead of the 2019 parliamentary polls.
As such, a meeting of RJD’s legislators has been convened on Monday at which endorsement of Lalu’s leadership, backing for his son Tejashwi and unity in the party will be reiterated and legislators would be asked to mobilise support for the rally.
It would also be emphasized at the meeting that there was no threat of defection by RJD MLAs.
But, for all the professed bravado, RJD leaders were sceptical in private whether the proposed rally would be as impressive as planned, if Lalu and Tejashwi landed up behind bars weeks ahead of the August 27 event. “Without Lalu and a second rung leadership to oar the event, it would be a poor show”, said a party leader.
There are also doubts in thje RJD as to whether leaders like West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh or the Congress top brass would attend the rally if Lalu was not there to steer the show.
However, Bihar RJD senior leader Ashok Kumar Sinha said Lalu’s morale had been boosted by the support he had received from the Congress and regional leaders, following the CBI raids. “The RJD’s core voters - Yadavs, Muslims and Dalits were angered by the CBI raids and throng the rally to express their support for him.
“Whether Lalu is in jail or out of it will not impact the rally”, Sinha insisted.
RJD leaders consider the rally to be crucial for the Lalu and family playing the victim for taking on the saddron brigade and the RJD’s chief’s hope of becoming a pivot of opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. As such, it came as no surprise that Lalu’s 10, Circular road residence in Patna hummed with activity, on Sunday.
Soon after meeting Lalu, former minister Raghunath Jha, shown among those who had ‘donated’ land to the RJD chief’s sons for reasons unexplained, said there was no cause for Tejashwi to quit the ministry in the wake of the FIR against him, when ‘similarly placed Uma Bharti was not resigning as union minister’.
The Yadav scions, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, remained confined to their home. “An engagement of the deputy CM, to attend a meeting of the party’s youth cell, was cancelled on Friday due to the raids. Otherwise, he has had no official engagement in last two days,” said Sanjay Yadav, a close aide of Tejashwi.