Tejashwi Yadav skips crucial RJD meet held at Rabri Devi’s residence

Disarray within Lalu Prasads RJD once again came to the fore on Friday when his younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav remained conspicuous by his absence at a crucial party meeting held here. RJD sources said the meeting was convened in the backdrop of speculations that following the partys debacle in the Lok Sabha polls where it drew a blank, many of its legislators were planning to switch loyalties preferably to Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U). All the party MLAs and MLCs, besides members of the Rajya Sabha and top office bearers were supposed to attend the meeting but, party sources said, nearly half of the members in both houses of the state legislatures did not turn up. The absentees also included Prasads elder son Tej Pratap Yadav an MLA and eldest daughter Misa Bharti, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha. However, it was the absence of 30-year-old Tejashwi, which was most strongly felt. Formerly the states deputy chief minister and at present the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly, Tejashwi Yadav had failed to attend the recently concluded month-long monsoon session of the bicameral legislature in marked contrast with the past when he was noted for his enthusiastic participation in the proceedings and scathing attacks on the ruling dispensation. RJD national vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, one of the founding members of the party, reacted with barely concealed vexation when journalists approached him with queries about Tejashwi who was declared the chief ministerial candidate for the next assembly polls more than a year ago. He will come at the time of swearing in (as chief minister). Why are you insisting on his presence now, Singh quipped after the meeting held at the residence of Prasads wife Rabri Devi, who had succeeded him as the Chief Minister of Bihar in the 1990s. The former Union minister, who had lost his former stronghold of Vaishali to a less fancied LJP candidate in the Lok Sabha polls, however insisted that the meeting was convened to discuss ways to strengthen the organization and that it was wrong to construe that MLAs were being paraded out of fear of losing them (to the NDA). Lalu Prasad is currently in Ranchi, serving sentences in fodder scam cases. There have been speculations that his family which controls the party in his absence has deliberately scaled down its attacks on the NDA comprising BJP, JD(U) and LJP. However, recently when a question to this effect was posed to Shivanand Tiwary, another national vice-president of RJD, who has been Prasads senior in politics, he replied in the negative. Had there been any deal of the kind, our party would not have voted against triple talaq bill and the Jammu and Kashmir reorganization bill issues on which our members also voiced concern on the floor of the Parliament, Tiwary said. He, however, betrayed the anxiety among the senior leaders about the partys prospects with the remark: Nitish Kumar is a mature leader, who had sized up the personality of Narendra Modi before the latter became a prime minister. It is a travesty that he again joined hands with the BJP-led coalition. I hope he comes back and leads the opposition which, on a national level, suffers from a crisis of credibility.