The JD(U) posters targeting Lalu in Patna | By special arrangement
The JD(U) posters targeting Lalu in Patna | By special arrangement
Text Size:

Patna: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav may be in jail for the past three years, but his 73rd birthday, which fell Thursday, has triggered a political war in Bihar, with the ruling Janata Dal (United) putting out posters in Patna, which claim that the former chief minister and his family own 73 properties.

These properties had been listed earlier by Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi in a series of press conferences in 2017.

“The list of properties acquired by political muscle power is still being compiled,” read the JD(U) posters in a reminder of the alleged illegal properties, which had acted as a trigger for the party’s split with the RJD three years ago.

The JD(U)’s posters were meant to puncture the RJD’s move to celebrate its founder’s birthday as Gareeb Samman Divas or the day to pay respects to the poor.

Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav had Wednesday declared that instead of cutting a cake or lighting candles, the party would feed the poor because “we worry about the poor, unemployment & farmers while the state government only worries about elections”.

“My mind is uneasy because he (Lalu) is fighting alone away from us but on the other hand his birthday gives me inspiration to fight for the downtrodden,” Tejashwi had told the media. He later drove to Ranchi, where his father is imprisoned but is in a state hospital due to poor health.

The JD(U)’s posters, however, are an indication of how Lalu remains relevant to Bihar’s politics despite his absence. He still has control over the party as RJD leaders still have to go to Ranchi and meet him with their pleas and requests. He also decides candidates for polls and the number of seats to be given to allies. It is his man Friday and RJD MLA, Bhola Yadav, who conveys the orders to RJD leaders. Lalu’s close confidante and former MP, Jagdanand Singh, is also the state party chief.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


Lalu’s long absence has, however, led to a spat within his family with sons, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, and daughter Misa Bharai at loggerheads with each other. Tejashwi, however, remains the face of Lalu for his supporters and leaders.

Also read: How BJP is leveraging its goodwill to ease pressure on Nitish over his Covid-19 handling

Another election without Lalu for RJD

As assembly polls approach, RJD leaders realise that this will be another election they will have to face without Lalu.

“Laluji’s physical presence may not be there but the ruling NDA is ensuring his presence. The tone and tenor they use for Laluji makes it clear that Nitish Kumar still has to use negative images instead of positive image to win elections,” RJD vice-president Shivanand Tiwari told ThePrint.

Tiwari’s views have some substance.

During the BJP’s virtual rally on 7 June, deputy chief minister Sushil Modi declared that the assembly polls will be a fight between “Laluwad and development”.

“We keep on hoping that Laluji will come out of jail so that people are reminded of the dark era of the Lalu-Rabri raj more explicitly,” Modi told ThePrint.

For the RJD, it is quite the opposite. “Laluji‘s presence would have been a morale booster for our party workers and voters,” RJD MLA Alok Kumar Mehta told ThePrint.

A son on political trial

There is a feeling within the RJD that Tejashwi has been blundering from one mistake to another without his father around.

The RJD’s biggest asset is its Muslim-Yadav social base, who constitute 30 per cent of Bihar’s voters. It has, however, proved to be a polarising asset, propelling other groups such as upper castes, EBCs and even Dalits to the NDA fold.

In February this year, the RJD did make efforts to break out of the Muslim-Yadav image, insisting that it doesn’t belong to just certain sections of society.

“Tejashwi, however, made a blunder last month when he hyped the killing of some Yadavs in Gopalganj district allegedly by upper caste men of a JD(U) MLA,” an RJD MLA said. “He created such outrage that even former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Dalit, declared that Tejashwi was raising a hue and cry only because the victims were Yadavs. Laluji would never make such a mistake.”

Tejashwi, according to RJD sources, made a second mistake by withdrawing his Dalit MLAs from an all-party forum that was preparing a memorandum to present to the President and the Prime Minister, urging them to bring SC/ST reservation under Schedule 9 of the Constitution. This would shield it from judicial scrutiny.

“During our last meeting, I had a talk with RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram who assured me that they were coming. But later they did not come and did not accept our calls,” said Lallan Paswan, a JD(U) MLA and the convenor of the forum.

There is resentment among the RJD’s Dalit MLAs over Tejashwi’s move to stop them.

“Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi may not ally us with us in the assembly polls. How can we hope to make inroads into the Dalit vote if we stay away from an event aimed at the Dalit cause?,” asked another RJD MLA pointing out that Dalits constitute 16 per cent of Bihar’s voters.

Challenges before Tejashwi

Even without his “mistakes”, Tejashwi has his task cut out for the elections.
For one, he has earned a reputation of being inconsistent.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Tejashwi upset his allies by skipping most public meetings addressed by Rahul Gandhi and even refused to attend meetings by other allies such as Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi.

After his party drew a blank, Tejashwi disappeared from the political scene for six months, ignoring his father’s requests to attend assembly sessions.

He has only become active this year and has been taking on the Nitish government during the Covid-19 crisis. He has also made efforts to woo migrant labourers returning to Bihar.

But even his own MLAs doubt if it will result in votes when elections come. “The migrant labourers are angry. But most of them have got doles from the government. The anger is likely to subside when elections come,” said a RJD MLA from Kaimur district.,

Tejashwi also remains inaccessible to most of his party MLAs and party workers. While he may have taunted BJP for holding a virtual rally, he has made no attempt to reach out to his workers.

“Laluji used to meet hundreds of party workers everyday and got a feel of the ground realities. Tejashwi on the other hand, keeps himself confined to a few leaders,” said another RJD leader.

Also read: Unemployment in Bihar haunts Nitish govt in poll year as it grapples with migrant crisis



Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

1 Comment Share Your Views



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here