RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (Photo Credit: File Image)
Turmoil in the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) resurfaced on Sunday with one of its founding members raising doubts over the party’s preparedness for the Bihar assembly polls, scheduled in less than a year, and objecting to alliance partners being belittled in the zeal to project Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial face. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, a national vice president known for speaking his mind, left the RJD aflutter with a letter he wrote to jailed supremo Lalu Prasad on January 9, copies of which he has sent to state president Jagadanand Singh and Tejashwi Yadav, among others.
In the letter, the former Union minister has expressed disapproval of the party having failed to spruce up the organisational structure and constitute committees at the booth level though “only 250-300 days are left for the assembly elections”. He has also expressed dissatisfaction with the party’s inability to hold daily press briefings “in response to abuses hurled at us by both ruling parties (JD-U and BJP) through the media”.
When journalists met the outspoken RJD veteran with queries, he said, “Whatever points I have raised are in the interest of the party. These must not be seen as dissent. Democracy thrives on plurality of opinions. It cannot be a case of my way or the highway.” “The booth-level committees should have been in place long back. If we do not act even now, it will be too late. Our counter-attacks to an aggressive NDA also leave much to be desired,” he pointed out.
“On the other hand, we go to the media riding roughshod over our allies. Stating that they can continue in the Grand Alliance on our terms, else they were free to leave. Is it the way to behave? As the largest constituent of the coalition we have the greatest responsibility to keep the flock together,” Singh said.
The RJD national vice president’s remark has an obvious reference to Jagadanand Singh, who has dismissed the demands for a coordination committee of the Grand Alliance, a five-party formation. The demand has been raised most vociferously by former Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has taken exception to the RJD having unilaterally declared Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate without seeking the opinion of other alliance partners.
Jagadanand Singh had asserted that Lalu Prasad was “the coordinator” and Tejashwi his younger son “the leader” and that those uncomfortable with these “non-negotiables” were free to go wherever they wish. Reacting with indignation to the RJD state presidents averment, Manjhi said, “They should realiSe that the days of Lalu ji’s hegemony are over. The RJD needs other parties’ support to keep itself afloat. If these people do not change their attitude, we may have to review our ties with them.”
The Congress also voiced disapproval of the RJD’s treatment of its alliance partners. Its MLC Prem Chandra Mishra, an AICC media panelist, said, “It is strange that the RJD always chooses its alliance partners for flexing its muscles. Is this how the party intends to fight an aggressive NDA?”
Meanwhile, another RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary who had taken a break from active politics on account of “mental fatigue” a few months ago but has been back in action after the CAA-NRC issue left the country and the state astir backed Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
“Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has remained unflinching in his loyalty towards the party and no doubts can be raised over his intentions. The points he has raised in his letter are valid. He was also right when he criticised Jagadanand Singh some time back for his over-enthusiasm in enforcing discipline on its cadre. We cannot afford to let our workers’ morale sag, that too in an election year,” Tiwary said.
Elected as the state RJD president in November last year, Jagadanand Singh a stickler for propriety had thereafter forbidden party workers from calling him on at his office without prior appointment. The system was frowned upon by Raghuvansh Prasad Singh a Rajput by caste like the state president who is fond of a less hierarchical and more hands-on approach in politics.