Ahead of the assembly elections in Bihar, Leader of the Opposition, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has tendered a public apology to the people of the state. Yadav admitted that there may have been mistakes made during the 15 years of RJD rule, adding that he himself had been very young at the time. Nonetheless, the politician has apologied for 15 years of "lapses and wrongs" in Bihar.
He also promised that if elected to power again, RJD would work for the development of the state.
Tejashwi, the younger son of former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi said, "I admit there might have been wrongs committed or mistakes made during the 15 years of our rule."
He pleaded ignorance for what had happened in these 15 years, saying he was too young during that period. Still, he said, "I seek forgiveness from you".
Tejashwi was born in November, 1989 and Lalu became the Chief Minister after four months in March, 1990.
Tejashwi was speaking at a programme to admit some Congress and JDU leaders into the RJD. Those joining RJD,including Dr Kaplana Rai, the granddaughter of late chief minister, Daroga Prasad Rai. Incidentally, she is the cousin of Lalu's elder son, Tej Pratap's estranged wife, Aishwarya Rai.
She is likely to be fielded against Chandrika Rai, the father of Aishwarya from Parsa in Saran district.
Tejashwi said that even in the last 15 years of present CM Nitish Kumar's regime, there has been no development in the state. Farmers were being denied their wages and migration was going up, he alleged. He claimed that during the lockdown period, 30 lakh people had returned from other parts of the country to BIhar. Nitish, he said, had failed to create job opportunities for them.
The situation in the present NDA rule is worse than 15 years of RJD rule, he commented.
During the RJD rule, he added that party workers had gotten respect, and even block development officers offered chairs to them. But, in NDA rule, even the ministers are being humiliated by the officers, he claimed.
"Whatever may be the demerits of RJD rule, Lalu Prasad had promoted social justice, given respectability to the poor and deprived classes," he said. Tejashwi said that he would promote economic justice for the poor wherever possible.
Tejashwi's apology is being interpreted as a response to the criticism of RJD rule by other parties. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his colleagues have described the RJD tenure as a "Jungle Raj". The NDA is contesting the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections on a 15:15 years of NDA versus RJD rule comparison.
Tejashwi, however, did not get support from his own party leaders. Maheshwar Yadav, a senior RJD MLA from Muzaffarpur said that this apology was not a serious attempt to improve the image of the party. He also questioned the appointment of Tejashwi as the Opposition Leader.
"There are many senior leaders in the party, but he was made Leader of Opposition because he was the son of Lalu Prasad. He has no merit to hold the position," Maheshwar Yadav said.
He also claimed that 25 to 30 RJD MLAs were deserting the party to join the JDU before the assembly elections.
Last week, 5 out of 8 MLCs of the party had left the RJD to join the JDU>
The BJP however said that Tejashwi's apology was not enough. Calling it a "stunt" from him, BJP Spokesperson Nikhil Anand said that "Lalu Prasad should apologise to the people of Bihar".