Tejashwi’s absence from Bihar assembly puts RJD’s leadership void back in focus
The monsoon session of the state assembly that concluded on Friday saw face-offs between the state government and opposition RJD over AES deaths and floods, but the internal rift and leadership void within the main opposition party was visible during the month long session with leader of opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav choosing to skip most days of the proceedings.
Tejashwi attended the house for two days on July 4 and 5th and remained absent on all other days till the conclusion of the session on July 26. In total, there were 21 sittings of the month long session that began on June 28, during which several financial business and bills were passed.
RJD legislators claimed Tejashwi was busy in court cases related to his alleged involvement in the IRCTC scam, being probed both by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate(ED).
“Tejashwi has been staying in New Delhi for the last couple of weeks owing to the court cases and legal issues that require his presence. That is why, he did not attend the house,” said Bhola Yadav, a senior party MLA and close aide of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Yadav said Tejashwi, in a petition at the Patiala House Court in New Delhi, had sought for legal relief in cases filed against him and was engaged in that purpose. A hearing was held on July 23rd.
However, sources said the 30-year-old Yadav scion, who has remained aloof from state politics after RJD’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls this year, has purposely avoided attending the house proceedings regularly as he is said to be still unhappy with the interference of his siblings, eldest sister Misa Bharti and elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav in party affairs.
Incidentally, Tej Pratap, a MLA from Mahua, was more visible in the monsoon session and grabbed the attention of the media for his new hairdo with curly locks.
While Tej Pratap has been busy in his religious pursuits these days, the Mahua MLA has not shied away to position himself as a true heir to RJD chief by picking up his mannerisms and also showing his clout during the Lok Sabha polls when he put up two of his selected candidates from Sheohar and Jehanabad against the party’s official nominees. Insiders said Tejashwi is annoyed with the way Tej Pratap has been asserting himself in the party and apprised his parents that he would only be more active in the party, if given a free hand in organizational matters.
“Tejaswhi has been keeping a low profile and staying away from active politics only as pressure tactics to get more power in the RJD and in organizational matters but has not succeeded,” said a senior party leader.
There is a buzz in RJD circles that Lalu, incarcerated in fodder scam cases and undergoing treatment at RIMS, Ranchi, is not open to the idea of entirely giving the charge of the party to his son apprehending it might trigger a split in the party or enrage senior leaders as it happened in Samajwadi Party (SP) when the regional outfit saw a split after former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav took over the reins of the party from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
A section of RJD leaders and allies Congress and HAM(S) are also not happy with Tejashwi after the grand alliance’s poor show in Lok Sabha polls and have questioned the leadership ability of the cricketer turned politician.
Incidentally, the monsoon session saw former chief minister Rabri Devi leading the party more aggressively in the state council as compared to the party’s performance in the assembly, where senior MLAs like Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Alok Mehta, Bhola Yadav and Lalit Kumar Yadav held the fort to raise burning issues and cornered the government on AES and the flood situation in the state. Rabri Devi, recently, came to the limelight when she attacked CM Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi alleging both of them have amassed huge property and demanded a CBI probe. It prompted Sushil Modi to say he was ready for any probe.
“Tejashwi’s absence from the house had not affected RJD’s floor strategy as we worked as a team. The opposition played its role to expose the government over AES deaths, law and order and poor relief in floods,” said Shiv Chandra Ram, a RJD MLA.
Meanwhile, the ruling JD (U) took potshots at Tejashwi’s absence from the house proceedings in monsoon session. “ Tejashwi has violated the constitutional ethics by only attending the house for two days and nobody would accept his leadership. The leader of the opposition prefers to stay in New Delhi as he has dreams of becoming a national leader. But the reality is that opposition leader is facing scam cases and wondering aimlessly to escape from the infamy of corruption charges,” said JD(U) chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh.