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.”

Tejashwi Yadav finally surfaces in Patna but still can’t make it to Bihar assembly

Source: theprint.in

Patna: Under fire for the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD’s) dismal campaign in the Lok Sabha elections, Tejashwi Yadav is still to return to the political arena even though he was back in Patna Sunday evening after spending a month in New Delhi.

Yadav’s absence is all the starker as he is the leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly, where the monsoon session commenced Friday. On Monday, the treasury benches allowed a rare adjournment motion on the death of around 180 children in Muzaffarpur due to the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

Adjournment motions are an opportunity for the opposition to censure the government on its lapses, but Tejashwi, the son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, wasn’t present in the House despite his home in Patna being less than a kilometre from the assembly building.

That prompted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Srawan Kumar to gesture at Tejashwi’s empty chair even as Speaker Vijay Choudhary remarked, “Let’s focus on the members who are present”, leaving RJD MLAs red-faced.

“This must be the first time in parliamentary history that the leader of the opposition has been absent on such an important issue,” an angry RJD MLA later told ThePrint.

The onus was then on a few senior opposition leaders such as Abdul Bari Siddiqui of the RJD and Sadanand Singh of the Congress to grill the JD(U)-BJP government on the issue but they targeted Health Minister, the BJP’s Mangal Pandey, as opposed to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The Nitish government has been pulled up by the Supreme Court and the media over the Encephalitis deaths but was virtually handed a walk-over in the assembly as the opposition allowed Pandey to read out the steps taken by his department without questioning him.

Family, party unsure of whereabouts
Tejashwi had gone off the radar after addressing a press meet in Patna on 28 May following the Grand Alliance’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. There was much speculation on his whereabouts with some RJD leaders even claiming that he may have gone to London to watch the Cricket World Cup as he is a former cricketer himself.

On 28 June, exactly a month later, Tejashwi tweeted accusing the media and his political opponents “of cooking up spicy stories” of his absence and stating that he was away as he had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

He then went on to reiterate his party’s “commitment to the poor” and added that he was “following up on” the death of children due to Encephalitis.

But there is little clarity on his whereabouts, with family members showing irritation when asked the question. Tejashwi’s brother Tej Pratap surfaced in the assembly Monday but shrugged off the question. “He must be at his home,” Tej Pratap said. Their mother, former chief minister Rabri Devi, Friday snapped back at a reporter over the same question. “He is at your home,” she said.

RJD MLAs, however, told ThePrint that Tejashwi was yet to interact with them. “When a few MLAs telephoned him they were told that he would call back. But that call never came,” a senior RJD MLA said, adding that the party was yet to hold its routine meeting of legislators to discuss its floor strategy for the monsoon session.

“The result is that in the assembly we are going soft on CM Nitish Kumar, but in the state legislative council, Rabri Devi is demanding his resignation,” he added.

Opponents mock RJD leader
NDA leaders have been taking jabs at Tejashwi ever since his tweet on 28 June.

“Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj made their illness public while they were in office,” said deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi. “Tejashwi Yadav made his absence mysterious and has disrespected his party and its legislators.”

The RJD leader is also facing flak from his own party colleagues. “The manner in which he runs the party raises questions on if the party will survive. He refuses to meet his supporters and leaders,” said another RJD leader. “All this is happening when the party has to gear up for the assembly polls next year.”

The leader further said that Tejashwi is living up to his reputation as a “non-serious political leader who did not even cast his vote in Patna during the Lok Sabha polls”.

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?