Patna: The simmering feud in the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) boiled over again Thursday, with party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s older son Tej Pratap Yadav questioning the removal of a close confidante as chief of the RJD’s student wing.
State RJD president Jagdanand Singh had Wednesday replaced Aakash Yadav, state president of the RJD’s student wing, with Gagan Kumar.
Akash is a close aide of Tej Pratap and had caused a flutter when he recently put up a poster that did not carry the photograph of Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu’s younger son and chosen political heir.
On Thursday, Jagdanand hinted that his decision to remove Aakash Yadav had Lalu’s approval.
“Who is Tej Pratap Yadav? My accountability is towards Lalu Yadav,” Jagdanand told The Print.
The reaction was instant.
“Today he is asking who Tej Pratap is. Tomorrow he will ask who Tejashwi Yadav and Misa Bharti (Lalu’s eldest daughter and Rajya Sabha MP) are,” Tej Pratap told the media in Patna.
The defiant son also said he did not consider Jagdanand Singh as his leader.
“He is indirectly working for the benefit of the BJP; I am asking my father to go by the party’s constitution. Aakash Yadav’s removal is illegal and I might move the court on the issue,” he added.
“Aakash was not even issued a show-cause notice. When it comes to speaking out the truth, I am like my father. I speak it out even if it is uncomfortable.”
He declared that he would not attend party functions as long as Jagdanand Singh is the state RJD chief.
Tej Pratap did not stop there. He also made a veiled attack on brother Tejashwi Yadav.
“The non-resident advisor on whose advice the party is being run, cannot even win a panchayat election in his home state,” he tweeted. “How can he make my younger brother the chief minister?”
जिस प्रवासी सलाहकार के इशारो पे पार्टी चल रही वो हरियाणा में अपने परिवार से किसी को सरपंच नहीं बनवा सकता वो ख़ाक मेरे अर्जुन को मुख्यमंत्री बनायेगा ..वो प्रवासी सलाहकार सिर्फ लालू परिवार और राजद में मतभेद पैदा कर सकता है
— Tej Pratap Yadav (@TejYadav14) August 19, 2021
The attack is on Tejashwi’s close confidante and secretary Sanjay Yadav, who hails from Haryana. Sanjay has been with Tejashwi ever since the latter served as Bihar deputy CM in 2015 and is a part of his inner circle.
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Playing it down
The RJD is busy playing down Tej Pratap’s latest outburst.
“There is nothing to be concerned about. I and the national president of the party (Lalu) are there to help the party,” Tejashwi Yadav told the media in Patna Thursday.
“The fact that Tej Pratap will not attend any of the party’s functions is actually welcome. Every time he addresses a meeting or a press meet, he embarrasses the party and his family,” said a RJD MLA.
A succession battle has been ongoing in the RJD since 2017, when Lalu publicly announced that Tejashwi Yadav would be successor.
The family rift has surfaced several times but Lalu has preferred to resolve the issue internally.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Lalu resisted demands for the expulsion of Tej Pratap after the defiant rebel son had fielded two of his own men against RJD candidates.
“This time when Tej Pratap went against Jagdanand Singh and Sanjay Yadav, Lalu realised that the two are the only shields against his eldest son,” said a second RJD MLA. “If he concedes to Tej Pratap’s demands, his eldest son’s next attack would be directly on Tejashwi. On Tejashwi, Lalu will not make any compromise.”
The MLA stressed that Tej Pratap stands isolated within the party.
There is, however, a persistent fear within the RJD that the family feud between Tejashwi, Tej Pratap and Misa Bharti will linger and spiral out of control when Lalu is no longer around.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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