PATNA: Bihar’s main Opposition party RJD and its jailed chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family are witnessing a rift over a parliamentary constituency from where Yadav’s eldest daughter and one of his top aides are keen to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
While the RJD-led Grand Alliance is yet to finalise a seat-sharing pact for Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, discontent gripped a section of the party after Yadav’s elder son and former minister Tej Pratap Yadav announced that his sister, Misa Bharti, would be the RJD candidate in the prestigious Patliputra seat. Bharti is currently a Rajya Sabha member.
Lalu’s close aide and RJD legislator Bhai Birendra, who has been nurturing the constituency for long and hopes to contest the upcoming LS polls from there, was shocked by Tej Pratap’s announcement. Birendra, considered closer to Lalu’s younger son and Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, was on Friday invited by RJD national vice-president and former CM Rabri Devi, who is Lalu’s wife, for a meeting.
“I would like to contest for the Patliputra seat if Lalujee decides so. Laluji is God for me. He is my icon. If I do not become the candidate, I will support whoever he decides to be the candidate,” said Birendra after meeting Rabri Devi at her 10, Circular Road residence. His words were in marked contrast to what he had said a day ago: “I do not care about who says what. I will certainly contest for the Patliputra seat if Lalujee wants”.
In fact, RJD was struck by a similar crisis during the last LS polls when Misa Bharti made her debut in politics by contesting for this seat. Longtime Lalu aide and RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav, who was keen to contest for the seat, had quit the party and contested as a BJP candidate after she got the RJD ticket. Bharti was beaten by Ram Kripal, currently a Union minister, by 40,322 votes.
Misa Bharti, who has been organising political programmes in Patliputra intermittently, has made it clear that she would be the RJD candidate for the seat. “There is no question of anyone other than me contesting in Patliputra,” she said.
RJD sources said both Tejashwi and Lalu want Birendra to be the party’s candidate in Patliputa this time. “It is going to be a difficult decision for the family as Misa’s claim for the seat has the support of Tejashwi and Rabri Devi. Only Lalujee’s word will be final,” said a senior RJD leader familiar with the developments.
“No decision has been taken on seats and candidates yet. These issues would be settled by the party’s parliamentary board with Lalujee’s consent after the seat-sharing deal is finalised,” said Tejashwi Yadav.