Tejashwi may be elevated as RJD acting national prez; restructuring likely
Even as the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has launched a campaign to protest fuel hike and galloping inflation, a change of guard in the party’s organization seems to be on cards with the leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav likely to be made the acting national president of the party, HT has learnt.
The speculation of Tejashwi taking a bigger role in the party in the coming days has gained currency with the 31-year-old Yadav scion and state president Jagdanand Singh camping in New Delhi where they have met ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
It is said Singh, a close aide of Lalu and a party strategist, has mooted the idea of elevating Tejashwi to a new role as a precursor to take the mantle of RJD’s national presidentship in view of the frail health of the RJD chief. Lalu Yadav is recuperating at his eldest daughter Misa Bharti’s residence in New Delhi for the past several months. The RJD chief was released on bail in multiple fodder scam cases in April.
On 22 November 2017, a month before RJD chief Lalu Prasad was incarcerated in fodder scam cases on 23 December 2017, it was Singh who proposed Tejashwi’s name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate – a move seen as propping the young Yadav scion as a number 2 in the party during the RJD’s chief absence from mainstream politics and preempt internal squabbling over leadership.
The gamble has paid off with Tejashwi emerging as a youth face in the party in the last many years and throwing a stellar performance in the 2020 assembly polls in which RJD won 75 seats on its own.
Meanwhile, Singh sounded ambiguous on the speculations that discussions were going on to elevate Tejashwi as the acting national president of the party. He said he had called on the ailing RJD chief to enquire about his health and other party related affairs.
People privy to the development said Singh is also camping in New Delhi in connection with a legal case filed in the Supreme Court related to non-disclosure of criminal cases by several party MLAs in the last assembly polls.
“I do not know from where these reports of Tejashwi becoming acting national president is coming. But if something happens, you all will know,” Singh said on Tuesday, on phone. His assertion suggests that a possible restructuring in the party’s top organizational hierarchy may happen.
Party’s top leaders said elevating Tejashwi as acting national president would not be difficult as such powers are vested on the RJD national president, as per the party’s constitution.
“Though there is no such post as acting national president in the party’s constitution, the RJD national president can do it by exercising his powers. But any such decision would have to be approved by the national executive,” said senior RJD leader and former MLA, Bhola Yadav. Yadav. He, however, said he was not in the know of any move by the party to create a post for Tejashwi.
Incidentally, there are also speculations that there could be a reshuffle in the state party unit with Singh, who has been holding the post since 2019 November, likely to make an exit and be replaced with a senior party leader. There are murmurs in the party that Singh is feeling uncomfortable in holding the post of the state president following the recent attacks against him by Lalu’s elder son and Hassanpur MLA Tej Pratap Yadav.
“It is true, Singh is not feeling comfortable after recent attacks against him by Tej Pratap. His Delhi visit and meeting with the RJD chief could be related to that also,” said another senior RJD leader. People familiar with the matter said former MP Alok Mehta and few other leaders were in reckoning to be appointed as RJD state president in coming months.
On the foundation day event on July 5, Tej Pratap had taken a dig at the veteran party leader by addressing him as “Jagnandand Uncle” and saying the latter seems to be always angry with him. A few days later, reports of Singh tendering his papers surfaced in the media though it was denied by both Singh and Tej Pratap.
People familiar wit the matter in the party said a formal announcement of Tejashwi’s possible elevation as the acting national president could be made in the coming weeks after the ailing RJD chief returns to Patna.
Meanwhile, BJP state spokesperson Nikhil Anand on Tuesday said the possibility of Tejashwi becoming the working national president has gone on predictable lines portraying how the RJD believes in ‘family rule’ and dynastic politics.
“RJD is a party run by a single family. It does not have an idealistic base and its politics is only to patronize one family of Lalu and Rabri. Tejashwi taking up the mantle in the coming days only reflects how RJD believes in dynastic politics like the Congress. But Tejashwi’s elevation is injustice to his elder siblings, Misa Bharti and Tej Pratap, who have a rightful claim on the RJD chief’s legacy,” he said.