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Tej Pratap Yadav: All sound and fury or cool, calculated strategy?

Some within the RJD see Tej Pratap’s controversial statements an attempt on his part to carve an independent political space.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2017 07:42 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Tej Pratap Yadav,Narendra Modi,Lalu Prasad
RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav offers a cap to party chief and his father Lalu Prasad on being re-elected as party president during the party's National Council meeting in Patna on November 21, 2017. (PTI File Photo)

RJD leader Lalu Prasad’s eldest son, Tej Pratap Yadav, is no stranger to controversial comments and seems oblivious to the criticism they evoke. Some within his own party say this is by design.

Tej Pratap’s remark on Monday that he will get Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘skinned’ if any harm befalls his father has come in for widespread condemnation. That came on the heels of last week’s tirade against Sushil Kumar Modi , Bihar’s deputy chief minister.

“I have been invited by Sushil Kumar Modi to attend the wedding of his son. If I go there, I will expose him in public. I will thrash him inside his house, hold a public meeting at the marriage venue and vandalize things,” Pratap was heard saying.

Lalu Prasad was quick to apologise then, as he did today.

“I don’t approve of this (language). I have spoken to him and told him to not speak anything like that again,” he told media on Monday. Lalu also convinced Sushil Modi that no ‘disturbance’ would be created at the latter’s son’s marriage on December 3.

The BJP leader was, in fact, one of Tej Pratap’s earliest targets after the RJD leader became an MLA in 2015 from Mahua in Vaishali.

“Why is Sushil Modi worried about my marriage? He should instead think about his own son. Why does Sushil Modi not allow his son to get married? Is he impotent ?” questioned Tej Pratap in October 2016 .

His tenure as health minister also saw controversy over the posting of a medical team from a top government hospital at his official residence in Patna.

Earlier this year, an RJD leader, Sanoj Yadav alleged that he was beaten by Tej Pratap Yadav on June 23, the day Lalu Prasad hosted an Iftar party. The apparent provocation was that Sanoj Yadav was not able to defend Lalu and family over allegations of corruption being levelled on them in a TV debate, despite not being an official spokesperson of the party.

“Tej Pratap, unlike his younger brother, Tejashwi, gets provoked easily,” said a RJD leader.

Tej Pratap’s latest outbursts, admitted senior RJD senior leaders, have put the RJD, which of late had managed to gather some sympathy after its break-up with Nitish Kumar, on the backfoot.

But some within the party see Tej Pratap’s controversial statements an attempt on his part to carve an independent political space and project himself as a leader enjoying a stature parallel to his younger brother Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.

Signs of sibling rivalry have become all too apparent in recent times with Tej Pratap aggressively trying to get a share of public space as he did during RJD’s August 27 rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan. Tej Pratap, who wasn’t on the schedule, grabbed the mike, then blew a conch and went on a long winding speech against the BJP in a style -- both rustic and witty -- reminiscent of his father.

RJD insiders feel the elder Yadav son’s more colourful public appearances have a better chance of keeping the RJD flock together.

“His utterances can be political immaturity or well-thought of strategy. In recent times, top leaders maintain calm while they let their mind speak through others,” said D M Diwakar, a political analyst at AN Sinha Institute.

Motives aside, Tej Pratap’s flair for drama, evidenced in antics such as dressing as Lord Krishna, social media posts showing him preparing jalebis and a horse ride last Christmas, will ensure that he remains in the news.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 07:38 IST