Battleground Bihar: Can a divided Yadav family take on Modi-Nitish combine in 2019?

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Published: November 5, 2018 2:01:31 PM

The state is just six months away from the general elections and a few months is a long time in politics to change the people's perception on the ground. The BJP and JD(U) have already begun their preparation for the next Lok Sabha elections.

Lalu Prasad Yadav, Lalu family, Tej Pratap Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Tej Pratap divorce, Bihar politics, bihar pollsTej Pratap isbelieved to be at loggerheads with his younger brother Tejashwi on the the issue of leadership in the party. (Twitter)

Lalu Prasad Yadav, the man who ruled Bihar for over a decade and still holds sway over the political affairs in the state, is faced with an uphill task. Battling poor health and in jail in connection with the multi-crore fodder scam, Lalu faces a tough challenge on the domestic front ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The man responsible for Lalu’s troubles for the last few months is not the opposition, but Tej Pratap Yadav. Lalu’s elder son appears to be on a warpath with many within the party whom he believes are trying to take advantage by destroying the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Besides embarrassing the family with his Shiva and Krishna avatars, Tej Pratap is also believed to be at loggerheads with his younger brother Tejashwi on the the issue of leadership in the party.

While the family has denied reports of any such tussle, the speculations have only grown. And the filing of divorce between newly weds Tej Pratap and Aishwarya Rai have put the Lalu family back in the spotlight. After filing for divorce, Tej Pratap said that he never wanted to marry Aishwarya Rai, the daughter of RJD leader Chandrika Rai.

However, what stunned the family was Tej Pratap’s claim that he was made a scapegoat for the political benefits of several people including his family and the party. “I was made a scapegoat for the political benefits of several people in my family and party,” Tej Pratap Yadav was quoted as saying in Gaya on Saturday

Aishwarya, who belongs to an influential political family, was all set to enter politics in Bihar. She was given a prominent place along with Lalu Prasad on the party posters and banners that were put up during Foundation Day celebrations of the RJD in July.

Speaking to IANS, RJD Spokesperson Shakti Yadav had said: “Aishwarya is educated and belongs to a political family. Her father Chandrika Rai is a former minister and senior RJD leader whereas her grandfather Daroga Rai was the Chief Minister in the 70s. She is most suitable for politics.”

The report further said that there were talks of fielding Aishwarya from Saran parliamentary seat in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Aishwarya’s father has represented an assembly seat in Saran for over two decades.

What is at stake for RJD and Lalu in Bihar?

Aishwarya’s father Chandrika Rai is a powerful RJD leader and has been instrumental to the party’s win in several polls in the past. With the rift within the family and Lalu missing in action, the RJD may find it difficult to unite its workers on the ground to put up a fight against a united Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar in the upcoming polls.

What makes the fight more difficult for the RJD is that both brothers — Tej Pratap and Tejashwi — are yet to agree on many issues. In June this year, Tej Pratap Yadav said in a tweet that he wanted to get Arjuna seated on the throne of Hastinapur and himself return to Dwarka (like Lord Krishna). The immediate inference was drawn that he wanted to quit politics. However, he later clarified that he will remain in politics.

The state is just six months away from the general elections and a few months is a long time in politics to change the people’s perception on the ground. The BJP and JD(U) have already begun their preparation for the next Lok Sabha elections. In such a situation, RJD needs to introspect whether a divided RJD can take on the might of Amit Shah and Nitish Kumar in the next general elections. Bihar has 40 parliamentary seats. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP apart from its alliance partners had bagged 22 seats restricting RJD to just 4 seats. A repeat of this performance will do wonders for the BJP and Narendra Modi’s plan to return to office in 2019.

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