Lok Sabha elections 2019: Tejashwi Yadav skips Rahul Gandhi’s poll rally again, fuels speculation
For the third time since the election dates were announced, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav skipped on Saturday Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s poll rally in Bihar fueling speculation over unease in the grand-alliance (GA).Updated: Apr 20, 2019 18:14 IST
For the third time since the election dates were announced, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav skipped on Saturday Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s poll rally in Bihar fueling speculation over unease in the grand-alliance (GA). Rahul Gandhi addressed an election rally in Supaul, where he targeted the Narendra Modi government over a range of issues.
Rahul Gandhi has addressed three election rallies in Bihar so far and Tejashwi Yadav has skipped them all. The previous ones were held at Gaya and Katihar. Tejashwi Yadav’s absence from Rahul Gandhi’s rallies has left Bihar Congress red-faced and simultaneously left the sparks flying of a possible breach in alliance unity.
The NDA leaders raked up Tejashwi Yadav’s conspicuous absence from Gandhi’s rallies issue emphasising that the GA was falling apart. “There is no unity in GA. The alliance leaders are avoiding each other and skipping rallies addressed by their top leaders,” said Union minister and BJP’s Patna Sahib’s candidate Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“That there are a lot of inner contradictions in GA were apparent from the fact that Tejashwi has been skipping Rahul Gandhi’s meeting,” said LJP leader Chirag Paswan.
In Supaul, the GA unity has already been in disarray after the local unit of RJD openly opposed the candidature of Congress’s sitting MP Ranjeet Ranjan and stayed away from campaigning. Local RJD leaders have gone on record to claim that defeating the Congress candidate would be their only aim in this election.
There is a reason for the RJD’s apathy in Supaul. Ranjeet’s husband and sitting MP from Madhepura Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav has filed nomination from Madhepura as an Independent candidate after GA turned down his request to field him as consensus candidate.
Veteran parliamentarian Sharad Yadav is RJD’s official nominee from the seat and has the backing of all GA partners. With Pappu Yadav in the fray, the RJD is apprehensive that he might spoil Sharad Yadav’s victory chances and benefit NDA in the bargain. Hence there is a vehement call for revenge against the powerful parliamentarian couple from the local RJD unit, which seem to have the clandestinely support of RJD’s central leadership.
RJD’s Pipra MLA Yaduvansh Yadav has openly announced to support Independent candidate Dinesh Yadav. In the given context, Tejashwi Yadav and other star campaigners of RJD have so far avoided visiting Supaul to support the Congress nominee.
“The Congress-RJD feud has jeopardized the chances of GA candidates from both Madhepura and Supaul,” said a GA leader.
RJD, however, did not attach much importance to Tejashwi Yadav’s skipping Gandhi’s rally. “There is no difference in GA nor there is any threat to GA unity,” said party’s state spokesperson, Mritunjay Tiwary.
Even Tejashwi Yadav cited his pre-planned tours as the reason behind skipping the Gandhi’s rally in Supaul. “I will attend other rallies of Rahul Gandhi,” he told mediapersons in Patna.
The Congress also tried to play down the issue calling it insignificant. “Tejashwi Yadav had a pre-planned election meeting in Khagaria, which goes to poll on April 23, to canvass for Vilkasheel Insaaf Party (VIP) candidate Mukesh Sahni, who is a prominent GA leader. I had asked him to stay there but he will be seen in next Rahul Gandhi rallies,” said Congress Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil.
Tejashwi Yadav is avoiding to campaign for Ranjeet Ranjan and refraining from advising his disgruntled cadres and leaders to canvass for her is an open secret now. “Tejashwi for unknown reasons could not address meetings in Kishanganj and Katihar on April 14 and 15 ahead of the second phase polls, where Congress candidates were contesting. This had a direct bearing on the Congress,” said a Supaul Congress leader, preferring anonymity. Supaul and Madhepura go to the polls on April 23 in the third of seven-phased Lok Sabha elections in the state.
Senior RJD leaders said that Tejashwi Yadav and Rahul Gandhi have differences over certain issues. One such issue is candidature of Kanahiya Kumar, who the Congress president wanted to be designated as GA candidate from Begusarai. Tejashwi Yadav, however, opposed it and went on to field his party nominee Tanvir Hassan from the seat.