The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is set to celebrate its 22nd foundation day without founder and party patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav as he is in jail for his involvement in the fodder scam. The Yadav family will seek to put up a united front at the function as the rumours are rife that Lalu's elder son Tej Pratap Yadav is set to leave politics. Omission of his name from function's list of dignitaries has not helped the cause.
A list of dignitaries attending today's function in Patna does not mention Tej Pratap's name but the posters put up on at the party's state headquarters and the venue of the function included his wife Aishwarya's face alongside other politically active members of the Yadav family, hinting at her official entry into politics.
Reacting to omission of his name, the RJD chief's elder son rubbished speculations about rift within the family. What is so big about my name not featuring in a list of RJD leaders on the invitation card. My name and my photographs can be found on all the posters and banners put up by the party. I will also be taking part in the celebrations tomorrow. All this talk of family feud is a rumour spread by BJP people, he told reporters.
But, BJP and JD(U) seem to be in no mood to buy his defence and reiterated growing trouble within the RJD's first family. BJP state vice president Devesh Kumar said there was trouble brewing within the Lalu family which controls the party. While we abhor dynasty politics, going by the Hindu tradition, Tej Pratap who is the elder son of the RJD supremo deserved to be the political heir. But that did not happen, he said.
He had to remain content with a cabinet berth when his younger brother Tejashwi Yadav became the deputy chief minister. At present, Tej Pratap is just a party MLA while Tejashwi is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, the BJP leader said.
Lalu also played favourites by getting Tejashwi declared as the party's chief ministerial candidate, leaving Tej Pratap with no choice but to play second fiddle, he alleged. So now, while the three children of Lalu, including eldest daughter Misa Bharti are active in politics, it is Tejashwi who is hogging the limelight. It is foolish to blame BJP for the rift in the family, which is all too obvious, the state BJP vice president added.
About Lalu's daughter-in-law Aishwarya's photograph on the posters, the BJP leader said it only proves that in the RJD, you have to be related to the Lalu family, in whatever way, in order to take centre stage.
Tej Pratap had tied knot with Aishwarya in May this year.
Echoing the BJP leader's views, JD(U) MLC and spokesman Neeraj Kumar said Lalu Prasad has emerged as a neo-feudal force in modern politics.
Indeed, there is a rift within the family and that is inevitable when the entire family enters politics and starts yearning for clout, he said.
As if this was not enough, now the RJD supremo's daughter-in-law of two months also seems to be ready to enter the political arena. Lalu may have worked hard to earn his own political stature, but he has degenerated into a patriarch who cannot look beyond his family, the JD(U) leader alleged.
It would be for the first time that Lalu Prasad, who had floated the RJD after breaking away from the Janata Dal in 1997, would remain conspicuous by his absence at the function which would be inaugurated by Tejashwi Yadav.
Convicted in cases of multi-crore fodder scam, Prasad is presently on provisional bail on medical ground. He is admitted at a Mumbai hospital.
According to a statement issued by RJD state unit spokesman Chitaranjan Gagan, top leaders like national vice presidents Rabri Devi, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Shivanand Tiwary, state president Ram Chandra Purve, MPs, MLAs and office bearers at district and block levels will be attending the function.
(With inputs from PTI)