Millennium Post

Leadership crisis in RJD

Bihar's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is not only the single largest party in the state Assembly but also a resurgent force after winning some of the key bye-elections in the state. But the party in the middle of a serious leadership crisis. While RJD chief Lalu Prasad is serving a jail term in Ranchi in the fodder scam cases, his sons Tej Pratap and Tejshwi are engaged in a turf war. Lalu's wife and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharati, a Rajya Sabha MP, are embroiled in different corruption cases including the IRCTC scam in which the Lalu family members are accused of receiving a prime piece of real estate in Patna in lieu of contracts granted by Lalu Yadav as the Railway Minister in 2006 to a firm to run two IRCTC hotels. With most of the family members facing corruption charges, the fate of RJD looks somewhat uncertain. Lalu Yadav who is currently under medical observation at RIMS, Ranchi, has multiple health issues. He was granted a bail on medical grounds some months back and after treatment at a Mumbai hospital, he surrendered before the CBI court, which again sent him to jail to complete his term. But due to poor health, he was once again admitted to the hospital in Ranchi. At the hospital, he is lodged in a private ward where there are better facilities and he can order food from outside. Doctors at the hospital, however, are concerned that the unmonitored outside food may further aggravate his health condition. In the latest health update on Lalu Yadav, the doctors at RIMS have said that the 70-year-old leader is suffering from depression. After ruling the state for close to 20 years, the Lalu Yadav family is in a serious trouble. The family is out of favour with the Centre and investigating agencies like CBI and ED are not giving them any relief. But what is, however, in the favour of the Lalu family and their party RJD is the support of the people.

After Lalu Yadav, it's his younger son Tejashawi who is at the helm of party affairs. He is also frequently talking about the grand alliance of opposition parties. His quick rise to a top leadership position in the party has, however, upset the elder brother Tej Pratap, who is slowly being recognised as a potential leader who can take forward the political legacy of the Lalu family. On public platforms, Tej Pratap professes complete faith in Tejashawi and wishes him good luck but behind the scene, he is believed to be preparing himself for the leadership role in the party. Reflecting the popular mood of the people, Tej Pratap on many occasions has revealed his religious bent. Once he dressed like Krishna and the photo went viral on the social media. On another occasion, he was seen blowing a conch dressed like Shiva, before setting off on a Kanwar yatra. Though he does not come across as a hardcore politician, he is slowly getting into the mould. Tej Pratap is the only member of the Lalu family who is not embroiled in any corruption cases that the family is facing. While Lalu Yadav had preferred Tejashawi as his political heir, Tej Pratap's popularity is also rising. Though there have not been many occasions when Tej Pratap spoke anything critical about his brother and de facto chief of RJD, he is said to have flagged his concern that anti-social and unwanted elements have infiltrated the party and genuine leaders are being ignored. He also said that the vested interests are out to create a rift between the two brothers. However, there is no evidence of a rivalry between them as of now.

RJD finds its support from the Yadav and other communities including the Muslims. The party has a firm grip on the Yadav vote bank and is expected to perform well in the upcoming Lok Sabha in 2019 and next Assembly election in 2020. Tejashawi has emerged as the chief strategist for his party and has been participating in meetings with opposition leaders in a bid to cobble up a grand alliance. Coming from a political family, he is one of the new leaders who along with other young leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav who are trying to mould the public opinion in favour of youth leaders. But the problem with him is the same as with other youth leaders that they lack experience. The 28-year-old Tejashwi has already been a Deputy Chief Minister and is aiming to become the Chief Minister after the next Assembly election. There is little information about his vision for the state and the nation. It's the lack of substance that the new leadership represents is the real concern of the RJD chief.

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