Nothing is well with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. While the rank and file is yet to overcome the shock inflicted by the electoral catastrophe, the family feud has simply pushed the party towards an uncertain future. Even senior leaders of the party are apprehensive of a split.
Usually, the holding of the national executive meet of a political party aims at galvanising the party and bring about an image makeover to the leadership. But the two-day celebration of the RJD’s foundation day and also the national executive meet proved to be a lacklustre affair. The leadership failed to provide a concrete ideological line to the rank and file and boost their shattered morale. If foundation day celebration was a lacklustre affair, the executive meets witnessed bitter acrimony amongst the top leaders.
This was for the first time that the absence of Lalu was bitterly felt by the rank and file. Lalu did not strictly adhere to any political ideology, his systematic harping on social justice for the poor and raising the issue of their empowerment had no doubt acquired the new ideological line. Lalu was not devoted to a particular ideology; instead, he practised a mix of the pro-poor policies.
The political scenario of India is undergoing a significant transformation. Ideologies have turned redundant. While Lalu Yadav and his RJD ruled the state for more than 15 years with nothing but caste driven machination, his social justice politics have virtually become a tool for all other parties to rule. But the emergence of imposing the middle-class ideology has altered the dynamics of the semi-colonial politics. In such a situation the politics of caste has ceased to be a major agenda. The strained relations between Lalu’s two sons primarily owes to it. They cannot carry on as their father did in past. If Tejashvi has come to realise this fact to some extent, his elder brother still firmly believes in the manoeuvrings of Lalu. The RJD leadership can stick to the caste agenda but it must try to evolve a new policy which suits the new emerging class. They ought to realise that people have grown, their scope of vision has widened, and they are not to be simply won over on the basis of caste factor. Even Yadavs want to have their share in development.
The prevailing political economy confusion in the RJD has led to its marginalisation in Bihar. Though during Lok Sabha elections Tejashvi attacked the BJP-JD(U) alliance, the fact remains that he has not succeeded in assaulting an ideological attack and effectively counter the Hindutva and nationalism line of BJP-RSS. Caught in the ideological web, the RJD posted it’s worst showing ever at the hustings. Voters dumped the caste-based politics as defined and articulated over the years by Lalu Yadav.
While a section of the senior leaders believe that the party lost the election due to a shift in the strategy to continue to practice caste politics, Tejashvi’s brother and sister hold him responsible for the decline. The fight between siblings Tejaswi Yadav, Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti created confusion not just among the voters but among the RJD workers too. The alliance, from the beginning, failed to put up a joint front against the NDA.
Tejashvi going on leave just after the election results simply created more confusion. Even senior BJP leaders started openly accusing him of the worst performance of the party. The Lok Sabha election has thrown up many possible realignments of the political parties.
The political-ideological confusion that grips the party was clearly manifested in the national executive passing of a resolution that the party will fight the 2020 assembly elections under Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s leadership and he will be the party’s chief minister candidate. This resolution made it amply clear that the party is not going to make any change in its ideological and political line. At the foundation day ceremony, working president of the party, Shivanand Tiwari, appealed to Tejashwi to come out of the den and face the situation. “You will have to face lathi-charge, go to jail. You are the son of a lion and cannot step back. We are all with you.”
If sources are to be believed Lalu without mincing words has asked his elder son Tej Pratap not to create controversies. Earlier, Tejashwi had issued an ultimatum to quit if his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav was not removed from the party or restrained from making controversial statements. He has been abstaining from the party and legislative activities due to this factor.
Meanwhile, a section of the senior leaders has approached Lalu with the request not to allow Tejashvi to make all decisions independently. They point out that his strategy to share seats with the alliance partners was the major reason for the defeat of Mahagathbandhan. They also pointed out that some small time parties were given unwanted prominence by him at the cost of national parties.
- Arun Srivastava
The writer is a freelance journalist.
Views are personal.