In Lalu’s absence, Tejashwi, the former chief minister’s younger son and former deputy chief minister, is doing his best to keep the flock together.
Patna: Even as efforts are afoot to bring all secular forces on one platform against the BJP at the national level, the RJD is facing tough times in Bihar with party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav sentenced to 14 years in prison convicted in fodder scam cases.
In Lalu Yadav’s absence, Tejashwi Yadav, the former chief minister’s younger son and former deputy chief minister, is doing his best to keep the flock together.
Tejashwi Yadav, who has managed to lead the party successfully in the absence of Lalu Yadav, has now decided to focus on expanding Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) base in Bihar.
A day after the special CBI court announced the quantum of punishment for Lalu Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav held a meeting to discuss the party’s future strategy. Another meeting is likely to be convened on April 5.
At the meeting, the party leaders were asked to spread the message given by Yadav senio before going to jail in December last year. Lalu Yadav had written in the message that all party leaders to should spread the word about the harassment he had to face by the CBI and the Centre, among Yadavs, the minorities, and dalits — the RJD’s traditional vote bank since the 1990.
Meanwhile, the RJD is preparing to launch another phase of of Samvidhan Bachao Nyay Yatra next month to spread the BJP-led NDA government’s failures across the state.
“We have decided to reach out to all sections especially, backward, dalits and minorities, who have become the target of the BJP. The agenda is to expand our political base in Bihar,” Tejashwi Yadav said.
“There is a feeling among Lalu Yadav's supporters that he was implicated in "politically motivated" corruption cases by the CBI because of vendetta politics,” he added.
The ruling JD(U), which had earlier predicted the end of a four-decade-long political career for Lalu Yadav after the court convicted him in four fodder scam cases, feels that Tejashwi Yadav is playing the sympathy card to woo voters.
“Lalu Yadav has lost his credibility after his name surfaced in the fodder scam case. A misconception is being created about ‘sympathy’ for the RJD in the wake of his jail term. People have become more aware these days, so despite their efforts they will not vote for the RJD,” JD(U) spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan told this newspaper.
Analysts, however, believe that the RJD would emerge stronger from the crisis. In 2000 Assembly elections, the RJD had emerged a winner despite Lalu Yadav being named in the fodder scam cases.
According to RJD leaders, there is a feeling among the Yadav community that their leader, Lalu Yadav, has been caught in “politically motivated cases”, thanks to the BJP. Muslims and Yadavs, who form more than 30 per cent of Bihar population consider him a messiah. RJD’s vote share has been about 20 per cent in the past four elections, despite losing power in 2005.
RJD MLA Mohammad Neamtullah said, “The party will emerge stronger as people know that cases were filed against Lalu Yadav because he was talking about a stronger secular alliance against the BJP at the national level.”