PATNA: Clamor for a generational change in the opposition RJD in Bihar arose on Wednesday with many party legislators speaking out in favour of heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav replacing his ailing and jailed father Lalu Prasad as the national president.
The 30-year-old Yadav has been in a sulk ever since he led the RJDs campaign in the Lok Sabha elections wherein the party ended up with its worst-ever performance, failing to win a single seat in a state it had ruled for over a decade and where it still has the highest number of MLAs.
RJD sources said the sudden demands have arisen in the wake of Yadav who had been away from the Bihar capital for more than a month making a quiet return late Tuesday night.
We are fully in favour of Tejashwi Yadav taking full control of the party.
If needed we will bring in a resolution seeking his appointment as the party president, Bhai Virendra, Maner MLA and a known loyalist of the RJD heir apparent, told reporters.
Similar views were expressed by Bodh Gaya MLA Kumar Sarvajeet who said it is my personal opinion that the time has come for Tejashwi Yadav to assume full control of the party and tour the entire state, galvanizing public opinion against the non-performing NDA government, ahead of the assembly polls.
Jamui MLA Vijay Prakash seconded the idea in a more guarded way, saying it is the wish of all people of Bihar that Tejashwi should lead the party and provide an alternative.
Though a final decision has to be taken by Lalu Prasad.
RJD spokesman Mritunjay Tiwari echoed similar views.
"It's true that RJD without Lalu ji cannot be imagined. He himself had chosen Tejashwi Yadav as his successor and made him deputy chief minister in the grand alliance government and leader of opposition in the legislative assembly now.
"Tejashwi being a natural leader has already been accepted by the party workers as well as the people. Its time that Tejashwi ji is handed over the full command of the party," Tiwari told PTI.
Lalu Prasad, who founded RJD in 1997 was elected unopposed to the post of the party's national president for the 10th consecutive term in November 2017.
The tenure of the RJD president is of three years.
But, considering the fact that Bihar will see poll before the end of 2020, demand for an early election to make Tejashwi Yadav president is being made by a majority section of the party.
Prasad has been in Ranchi jail since 2017 after being convicted in multi-crore fodder scam cases.
After his first conviction in the fodder scam in 2013, he was stripped the membership of Lok Sabha and subsequently disqualified from contesting election as per provisions of the new law.
Some old-timers in the party, who did not wish to be named, however, expressed scepticism over the euphoric demands and pointed towards the disastrous consequences of a similar generational shift in the Samajwadi Party in the adjoining Uttar Pradesh.
The then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had, towards the end of his five-year-long tenure, revolted against the leadership of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav following irreconcilable differences with a number of close aides of the latter, including paternal uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav and businessman-turned-politician Amar Singh.
Although the party did not suffer a split immediately and Akhilesh Yadav managed to retain the support of veterans like Ram Gopal Yadav and Azam Khan, the party was trounced in the assembly polls by a resurgent BJP, notwithstanding a hurriedly forged alliance with the Congress.
RJD sources also said that the demands for his elevation could be seen as an attempt by the young leader, who has been formally announced the party's Chief Ministerial candidate for the next assembly polls, to gain an upper hand in the family feud that involves himself and his two siblings active in politics elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav and eldest sister Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha member.
Seen as the most charismatic and savvy among the three, Tejashwi Yadav had of late left people wondering about his future plans when he remained absent during a month-long assembly session, drawing sharp criticisms from the likes of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who said it was the first instance of a Leader of the Opposition not taking part in the proceedings.
He also failed to turn up at a crucial party meeting here last week, which led to the termination of the two-day deliberations ahead of schedule.
Starting off as an aspiring cricketer, who did not meet with much success on the field, the scion had a fairytale political debut in the 2015 assembly polls which his party contested in alliance with the Congress and the JD(U) headed by his fathers arch-rival Nitish Kumar and he ended up becoming the Deputy CM at the tender age of 25.
Corruption cases lodged against him and his party's stout refusal to heed demands for his resignation led to Kumar walking out of the Grand Alliance and returning to the NDA.