Dismissing the reports of infighting between her brothers Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav due to distribution of tickets, RJD candidate from Patliputra Misa Bharti has said the opposition is “spreading these rumours”, but her party is united to end Modi raj. “There are no problems between them. Tej Pratap ji always considered Tejashwi as his ‘Arjun’. He might have suggested some names and discussions might be going on or party must have taken decision unanimously. It is a common process and every political party goes through it,” Bharti, the eldest daughter of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, told PTI in an email interview.
“It doesn’t mean that they are not with the final decision that the party made. Opposition is happy spreading these rumours, but people know that elections are contested on issue. The RJD is united and firm on turning the tide against the Modi government,” she said. There have been reports that Tej Pratap Yadav, the mercurial elder son of Lalu-Rabri, had been resentful of Tejashwi Yadav being declared as the political heir apparent of the RJD supremo.
Tej Pratap Yadav has dropped many hints in the past few years that he was uneasy with the growing clout with his younger, but more suave and savvy, brother. Last month, he resigned as the ‘sanrakshak’ (mentor) of the party’s students wing, which was seen yet another expression of his frustration at being politically sidelined.
On April 1, he announced the formation of a parallel outfit Lalu Rabri Morcha, which he insisted was not separate from the RJD. Tej Pratap Yadav also urged his mother Rabri Devi to contest from the Saran Lok Sabha seat in place of the father of his estranged wife and threatened to contest as an Independent if his request was not heeded.
Bharti is pitted against BJP’s Ram Kripal Yadav, minister of states for Rural Development and former close aide of Lalu Prasad, whom she used to call “chacha” (uncle). In 2014, he left the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to join the BJP after being denied ticket from the Yadav-dominated Patliputra constituency. Yadav defeated Bharti by over 40,000 votes in 2014.
Bharti accused him of ignoring the constituency and making false promises. “There have been many promises in the last five years, but people got communalism, riots, mob lynching only. Nothing has changed in Patliputra in the last five years. Unemployment, lack of drinking water, law and order situations are major issues here, but the MP did not pay any attention,” the member of Rajya Sabha said.
Bharti is the only member of Lalu Prasad’s family in this electoral battle and is also feeling the absence of her father, who is sentenced in several fodder scam cases and serving a jail term in Jharkhand. He is currently in a hospital in Ranchi. “Laluji is an ideology. You can confine a person, but not his ideology. It is not only me who is feeling his absence, but everyone whose voices have been suppressed on caste, religion and economic grounds. People will express their anger through voting,” she added.
On being asked about the presence of the “Modi wave”, she said there is no “Modi lehar”, but it is “Modi kehar” (fear) in the country. “Government has been running like an event management company in the last five years. They are trying to hide their failures and main issues in the name of patriotism. Government has been limited to six words only chai, pakode, chowkidar, gai, bhagode and bhagidaar,” said Bharti. She also termed the BJP’s manifesto as an attempt of branding of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by equating him to India.
“The Congress’s manifesto focuses on people and removing poverty, while the BJP’s manifesto on branding of egoistical Modi by equating him to India. From the pictures of 11 leaders in 2014 to depiction of just one man in 2019 ‘Sankalp Patra’. Uniform Civil Code, Ram temple, Citizenship Bill are all reflective of Hindu majoritarian dominance theory of the BJP, which is not good for a diverse country like India,” said the fire brand leader.
When asked if the caste equations will be decisive again in Bihar, she said atrocities on Dalits and backwards cannot be ignored. “Rohit Vemula, reservation based on economic condition, ban on 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in MP, Saharanpur riots, there have been so many incidents so how can you think that people will not vote on the basis of caste against the Modi government,” she said.
She also feels that it will be easier for the ‘mahagathbandhan’ to connect with the people due to charisma of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress general secretary Uttar Pradesh-East. “The RJD is stronger in Bihar, but the Congress has immense experience of centre politics. People wanted to see Priyanka ji in active politics and she connects with them easily. It will surely benefit the alliance,” Bharti said.