Worry within RJD as Tejashwi Yadav stays away from action

Source: indianexpress.com

The meeting of RJD’s legislature party was cancelled on Saturday, reportedly because Leader of Opposition in Assembly Tejashwi Yadav was not going to attend it. This comes a day after former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi said on Friday that Tejashwi would attend the meeting on Saturday. On Friday, 66 of the party’s 81 MLAs attended the meeting.

Tejashwi has been mostly missing from the political scene after the Lok Sabha results in which the RJD drew a blank. He attended the just-concluded Assembly proceedings only for a couple of days, but did not take part in any debate. He also skipped the recent function of the RJD regarding its campaign to get new members.

He has, however, been active on Twitter. He recently criticised the state government for the deaths of children in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali because of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and over its handling of the flood situation.

A section of RJD leaders are concerned with Tejashwi’s “growing disinterest” in state politics. An RJD source said, “He wants to be in full control of the party but he is not being allowed to do so. He has been upset at his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav’s intermittent acts of defiance. He is also unhappy with some senior leaders blaming him solely for the party’s defeat. He wants his family to set things in order before he takes over reins of the party with full interest.”

Tej Pratap, who has floated apolitical forum Lalu Rabri Morcha, has been constantly throwing a challenge to Tejashwi’s leadership. “Though Tej Pratap might not have much support beyond the youth wing leaders of the party, his actions can embarass the party,” said a senior RJD leader.

An RJD leader said the rout in the Lok Sabha polls has dampened the morale of the party. “Tejashwi is not being able to take senior leaders along and to inspire confidence in the workers at the grassroots. His current silence is harmful for the alliance too. Congress is already talking about going alone in the Assembly polls,” said the leader.

While Rabri Devi allayed apprehensions of any split in the party during the meeting on Friday, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh spoke about how the alliance with RLSP, Vikasshil Insaan Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) did not benefit the RJD.

Party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said, “The party meeting on Saturday had to be cancelled because of unavoidable reasons. Not much should be read into it.”

Statistics don’t lie: Why Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is miles ahead of other contenders

Source: dailyo.in

Though the Bihar Assembly polls are scheduled for 2020, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has already declared Tejashwi Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate. While it appeared a little hasty and ill-timed for a party that drew a blank in the Lok Sabha polls, many argued that RJD’s declaration was more for intra-party consumption, and not for the people of Bihar. However, RJD’s apparent taste for Bihar’s top job has prompted many backroom boys across political lines to take a closer look at the Lok Sabha poll results. This is obviously an attempt to find whether RJD’s desire carries any weight in Bihar and if the political pecking order in the state has any new entrant.

A fresh data analysis of votes has been pulled out to assess if the poll outcome also has some hidden meaning attached to it. While statistics are notorious for not telling the whole story, the data analysis of voting during the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar has really thrown up some surprising assessments. The biggest surprise first: The BJP, which bagged the maximum votes in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, is not the biggest gainer if you compare performance of political parties during the last two elections held in Bihar.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP bagged 96,18,904 votes in Bihar. In the 2015 Assembly polls, the saffron tally was 93,08,015 votes. Clearly, despite their impressive showing in Bihar, having won all 17 seats contested in 2019, the BJP has gained just about 3.10 lakh votes from 2015. So, who is the biggest gainer in Bihar? The results of a data analysis — based on a comparison of the last two elections held in Bihar — are convincingly in favour of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) or JD(U). In 2015, Nitish’s party had bagged 64,17,041 votes. In 2019, its vote tally shot up to 89,02,719 votes. If you compare the two performances, it becomes clear that Nitish’s party has added more than 24.85 lakh voters in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.

The JD(U)’s leap of 38.73% over its 2015 tally is staggering. If we compare the votes gained by the two ruling parties in Bihar (JD(U)’s 24.85 lakh votes to BJP’s 3.10 lakh), it becomes clear that the jump in Nitish’s vote tally is eight times more than that of the BJP. More surprises come to fore when the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)’s vote tally of 2019 is compared to the number of votes it polled in 2015. The RJD bagged 62,70,107 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls compared to 69,95,509 votes in the 2015 Assembly polls. So, the RJD has lost just 7.25 lakh votes in 2019 against its performance in 2015. The figure, however, also reveals a significant insight.

While the JD(U) has raised its vote tally by nearly 39% over its 2015 performance, its electoral gains have not come from the losses of its opponents. The majority of additional votes that Nitish’s party has gained in Bihar appear to have come from new voters. Incidentally, since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bihar has topped the country’s tally when it comes to adding new voters to the electoral roll. The figure for new voters in Bihar was 61,33,940, whereas West Bengal with 55.02 lakh new voters and Rajasthan with 43.45 lakh new voters, were second and third, respectively. 

“Assuming that about 60% of Bihar’s new voters actually voted in the Lok Sabha polls, the number comes up to 36 lakh. If we place this figure against the 24.85 lakh new votes that Nitish Kumar’s party has added to its kitty in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it seems that nearly 70% of the new voters have voted for JD(U),” says a senior IAS officer. “It is clear. While JD(U) has kept its support base intact, it has also added majority of the new voters in Bihar to its vote tally. The reasons are abundantly clear. The new voters, the youth of Bihar, are smart enough to identify the leader whom they can count on for vision and leadership,” says JD(U) spokesman Rajeev Ranjan Prasad. “They [Bihari youth] can differentiate between a run-of-the-mill politician and a statesman like Nitish Kumar”.

“This explains why majority of the new voters have voted for the chief minister’s party,” Prasad adds. The assumptions are well supported by Bihar’s electoral record as Nitish has, indeed, remained the fulcrum of Bihar politics since his party defeated Lalu Prasad’s RJD in the October 2005. From 2005 to 2019, Bihar has seen four Assembly and three Lok Sabha polls. Barring the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the winner always had Nitish by his side in six of those seven elections. Though Nitish always talks about pooling all sections together, JD(U) sources admit that around 30% extremely backward castes (EBCs), and 15 per cent Mahadalits (the most marginalised among the Scheduled Castes) form the nucleus of the JD(U)’s strength.

Together, these two social sections have over 150 castes, constituting nearly 45% voters in Bihar. If RJD’s solid support base among the Yadavs, the single-largest caste group in Bihar with 14% of the population, combined with a sizeable chunk of 16% Muslim votes, has failed to stop Nitish in successive state elections, it was largely because the Bihar CM had similar consolidation of EBCs and Mahadalits behind him. Now, it seems the new voters have also preferred Nitish over others.

Why Bihar was right in defeating Tejashwi Yadav and RJD in Lok Sabha polls | Opinion

Source: indiatoday.in

When results of an election are announced, they decide two important roles–who will govern and who will be in the opposition to keep a check on what the new government does. For maintaining a polity’s democratic health, the second role is somewhat more important than the first.

This is because governments exist even in non-democratic regimes. But it is the presence of a responsible opposition that makes a robust democracy distinct. How effectively the Opposition is able to conduct itself, in many ways determines how cautious, sensitive and responsible the government will be while taking policy decisions and responding to unforeseen emergencies.

These are basics taught in social science classes at the senior secondary level and not necessarily part of a grand theory or sophisticated sacred knowledge.

But when it comes to the political spectrum of Bihar, the Leader of Opposition, Tejashwi Yadav, appears to have conscientiously chosen to be oblivious about this.

Bihar is currently witnessing its worst medical emergencies in recent times with more than 110 children dead due to encephalitis in Muzaffarpur district alone. The epidemic has exposed glaring faultlines in the public heath infrastructure of Bihar–be it availability of doctors, hospital infrastructure, nutrition level (which is worse than most African countries), among others.

These are exactly the times when people look up to their leaders (both in the ruling government and the Opposition) to stand with and for them to brave the calamity. Political ideologies, colours and partisan interests ought to diffuse in the face of such widespread human sufferings.

But what has been Tejashwi Yadav’s response to the Muzaffarpur tragedy? Two words can describe it: Silence and absence. This is not only unprecedented but also unbecoming and uncharacteristic.

Ever since the encephalitis outbreak hit Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, the Leader of Opposition in Bihar assembly who is also the de-facto head of the single largest party in the state–Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)–has been silent.

Not only is he yet to utter a single word, not many, even within his own party, seem to be even aware of his whereabouts. Senior RJD have been clueless when asked where their leader is. Some said he might be in the United Kingdom to watch the Cricket World Cup.

Is Tejashwi Yadav on a holiday? Is he unwell? Is he under a spell of unending introspection? How does he and his party plan to help the state overcome tragedies like the one in Muzaffarpur? He is a public figure, the Leader of Opposition in an honourable state assembly. The people have every right to know his whereabouts and where he stands in these dark hours.

This is the same Tejashwi Yadav who two months ago would not miss even a minuscule opportunity to hit out at the NDA governments at the state and national level; the same Tejashwi Yadav who on May 17 (the last day for campaigning for Lok Sabha polls) took a jibe at Nitish Kumar, daring him to at least release his party manifesto on the last day; the same Tejashwi Yadav would be active on Twitter to share visuals from his rallies and regularly question the government and launch scathing attacks on it throughout the polls.

But all this was during the election seasona season when promises are served like hot pakodas; when people’s dreams are colonised by political colours of all hues in the buzzing atmosphere characterised by one-upmanship.

Now with the poll season is over, have things suddenly changed for Tejashwi Yadavthe politician whose Facebook cover image screams the words “Pratham pratigya, Pratham pyar, sukhi samridh sarvottam Bihar (My first pledge and first love is to see a happy and prosperous Bihar)”.

Is the strength of his pledge and love so weak that it could be rattled by a humiliating electoral defeat?

No doubt that when results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were declared on May 23, they came as a nightmare for Tejashwi Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The party founded and nurtured by Tejashwi’s father Lalu Yadav, who is in jail, was routed and failed to win any of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. This was its worst performance and came despite an aggressive posturing, and an even more aggressive campaign led by Tejashwi Yadav against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But Tejashwi should have known that defeat is also a time that tests your character and leadership. It is easy to be a leader in victory because the tide is in your favour. But it takes political and moral courage to accept defeat, work for the future, and shoulder one’s responsibility as an opposition leader.

If silence and complete absence from public life is the kind of leadership that Tejashwi Yadav had to offer the people of Bihar in times of a catastrophe like the one in Muzaffarpur, it is for good that most people in the state chose to vote against his party in the Lok Sabha elections.

Defeat, just like victory, is part of a political journey. If a de-facto party president and Leader of Opposition cannot see beyond the humiliating results of a general election, it is better that the people chose not to repose faith in his leadership. One wonders if Tejashwi Yadav is naive to understand the basics that a political party’s socio-political responsibilities do not cease to exist in the post-election season.

Being a responsible opposition leader does not mean that he necessarily has to militate against the ruling government at all cost. In times of crisis, maturity commands that the opposition and the government work as a unit and support each other to tackle the situation.

But for this, our politicians need to look beyond the optics of electoral politics. And this is where Tejashwi Yadav has failed miserably.

He may be a popular politician in Bihar, but the larger question is: Is he a leader?

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s outreach to Nitish: A sign of churn in Bihar?

Source: business-standard.com

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decimated the opposition in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but intriguing developments of the past few days suggest space opening up for a possible churn in Bihar politics in the run up to the state Assembly polls by October 2020.

On Tuesday, union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh ridiculed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others over their attending ‘iftaar’ parties. In turn, Kumar was dismissive of Giriraj Singh’s comments and said his government would deliver on all its promises much before the Assembly polls.

By evening, BJP sources said party chief Amit Shah had phoned Giriraj Singh and advised him to be careful about his comments, particularly on BJP’s allies.

In his tweet, Giriraj Singh had commented at a photograph of Kumar and other leaders breaking fast at an ‘iftar’. “How beautiful would the picture have emerged, had phalaahaar (a fruit feast) been organised during Navaratra with the same fervour with splendid photographs taken. Why do we lag behind in observance of our own karm-dharm (religious customs) in public, while staying ahead in making a show for those of others,” Singh tweeted in Hindi.

The latest developments come in the wake of Kumar spurning the offer of a cabinet berth in the Narendra Modi-led council of ministers at the Centre, stating that his party does not “symbolic” but “proportional representation”. He, however, denied any “unease” between the allies.

Kumar then expanded his cabinet, including eight ministers, all from the Janata Dal (United) that he leads. He offered the BJP one ministerial berth, which it refused.

On Monday, senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said all non-BJP parties needed to get together to provide a national alternative to the BJP. “We are not allergic to any particular party or leader,” Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said when asked about Kumar’s acceptability.

“It would be even better if all small parties merge together and become a single entity to take on the humongous challenge posed by the BJP,” Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said. He said these were his personal views but RJD chief Lalu Prasad, currently incarcerated, and he have worked together for a long time and thought alike “on most occasions”.

In the just concluded Lok Sabha polls, the RJD could not win a single seat in Bihar. Its ally Congress could win one seat. However, Kumar’s JD(U) won 16, and allies BJP and Lok Janshakti Parthy won 17 and six seats respectively.

The RJD vote share in the Lok Sabha polls was 15.36 per cent, while JD (U)’s was 21.81 per cent, BJP’s 23.58 per cent and LJP’s 7.86 per cent. The Congress bagged a vote share of 7.7 per cent. In 2015 Assembly polls, the alliance of RJD, JD (U) and Congress had defeated the BJP-led NDA in Bihar.

Historically, the JD (U), and its previous avatar of Samata Party, has performed poorly whenever it has fought any election without a strong alliance partner.

The Samata Party, with George Fernandes and Kumar as its top leaders, could win only seven of undivided Bihar’s 324 assembly seats. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the JD (U) could win only two seats. The JD (U) has improved its vote share significantly.

Observers of Bihar politics say Kumar is aware that the BJP might now want the chief ministerial chair for itself after the next Assembly polls. In Maharashtra in 2014, the BJP had severed ties with the Shiv Sena to emerge the single largest party in the Assembly.

However, no other party currently has a leader of the stature of Kumar in Bihar, including the BJP. BJP’s Giriraj Singh is now a cabinet minister in the Modi government, while Bihar BJP state unit chief Nityanand Rai, being groomed as a possible chief minister, is minister of state for home at the Centre but still lacks Kumar’s popularity.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s comments suggest that the parties that came out of the womb of the socialist parties, or the ‘Janata parivar’, could be prepared to come together under Kumar’s leadership. “Now that the results have dented Tejaswi Yadav’s leadership, the challenge from within the family of Lalu Prasad to Kumar has weakened,” a Bihar leader said.

Giriraj Singh, who defeated CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai, has been a known detractor of Kumar’s. “We have never taken utterances of Giriraj seriously. We have always believed in giving respect to all religions and hence we sport a ’tilak’ and also wear skullcaps.” JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh said.

The ’tilak’ and skullcap metaphor is reminiscent of the developments of April, 2013, when at his party’s national executive meet in New Delhi Kumar had used the analogy to highlight ideological differences with the BJP, which eventually led to him severing 17-year-old ties between the two parties.

Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said the BJP-JD(U) and his party’s alliance is “intact”. Former chief ministers Rabri Devi and Jitan Ram Manjhi also appeared to have mellowed towards Kumar. Kumar attended the iftar that Manjhi hosted. Rabri Devi said any decision on inclusion of new allies can be taken only in consultation with all allies.

Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said the BJP-JD(U) and his party’s alliance is “intact”. Former chief ministers Rabri Devi and Jitan Ram Manjhi also appeared to have mellowed towards Kumar. Kumar attended the iftar that Manjhi hosted. Rabri Devi said any decision on inclusion of new allies can be taken only in consultation with all allies.

In Bihar, women give ‘birth’ to 5 children in 2 months

A woman, as everyone knows, usually gives birth to a baby after nine months of pregnancy, but in Bihar 298 women claim to have delivered two to five children in a span of 60 days – at least that’s what records of incentives amount given to new mothers under a government scheme show.

A woman gets around Rs.1,000 when she gives birth under the government’s Janani Suraksha Yojana but a total of Rs.6.6 lakh was paid as incentive to 298 women who claimed to have delivered two to five children within 60 days under the scheme, says a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that exposes corruption in the state.

These irregularities were found in the year 2008-09 in the districts of Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Gopalganj, Kishanganj and Nalanda, according to the CAG report 2009 tabled in the monsoon session of the state assembly that concluded last week.

“The concerned officials paid incentives under the Janani Suraksha Yojana to these women two to five times in 60 days,” the report says.

Unfortunately, thousands of genuine lactating mothers were denied the incentive due to them. The CAG report says that of 470,307 new mothers, 97,146 were not provided cash incentives under the Janani Suraksha Yojana for want of funds. Also, payment of Rs.25.19 crore to 1.8 lakh beneficiaries were made after a delay ranging between eight and 732 days.

Opposition leaders criticised the state government for the corruption in the implementation of the Janani Suraksha Yojana in the state.

“All this is happening in Bihar when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is claiming good governance. This is just a trailer of the unbelievable corruption in implementation of welfare schemes,” Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) state president Abdul Bari Siddiqui said.

Said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) youth leader Gopal Sharma: “High corruption during Nitish Kumar’s four-and-a-half year rule has eaten into welfare schemes like in the case of Janani Suraksha Yojana exposed by the CAG report.”