Bihar polls: RJD’s tough talk — only Tejashwi to lead alliance

Santosh Singh
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RJD on Friday made it clear that only Leader of Opposition in Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav would lead the alliance campaign. (File Photo)

With Grand Alliance constituents Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) and Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP) suggesting that Sharad Yadav should lead the alliance in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls, the RJD on Friday made it clear that only Leader of Opposition in Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav would lead the alliance campaign and be its chief ministerial face.

The RJD said Sharad Yadav was in their national executive and has been playing his role in national politics. The party also put to rest speculation that it was planning to engage poll strategist Prashant Kishor for the state polls. The party said it does not need “event managers” to win elections.

RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday said Sharad Yadav, now leading Loktantrik Janata Dal, should lead the Grand Alliance and the CM candidate could be decided later. Soon after Kushwaha’s remarks, HAM (S) leader and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and VIP chief Mukesh Sahni spoke on the same lines.


No room for conflicting signals

The RJD, which has declared Tejashwi as the CM face of the alliance, has been assertive about his leadership in the 2020 polls from the outset and does not want any conflicting signals to go down its rank and file. It is not ready to accept cumulative leadership or post-poll leadership formula because it sees the next polls as the best chance for Tejashwi to carve his own image, as Hemant Soren did in Jharkhand. RJD has been thwarting pressure politics from its alliance partners as well to keep clarity on leadership.

Sharad Yadav, who met Kushwaha, Manjhi and Sahni on Friday, did not react to their overtures.

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewary told The Indian Express, “Our alliance partners should hear it loud and clear that Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will lead the Grand Alliance in the 2020 polls and also be its CM face. Those who will board our boat will sail through. No one should try to create any confusion.”

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Asked about the RJD’s reservations against Sharad Yadav, Tewary said, “Sharad Yadav is a big name in national politics. He is very much in our national executive. He plays a role in national politics. As for Bihar, it is Tejashwi who will lead the campaign... We have been clear on it and understand the pressure politics being played by some people.”

Asked about speculation that Kishor may handle the Grand Alliance strategy for the polls, Tewary said, “We do not need event managers and poll strategists to win elections. Our national president Lalu Prasad has been clear on it. We have our policies and plans... I do not know if Grand Alliance constituents are approaching Kishor, but we have not approached him for sure.”

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Congress and RLSP sources, however, said Kishor had hinted about making some announcements on or after February 18. “It is not yet clear in what capacity Kishor can work with us. Talks are still on,” said a Congress leader.

An RLSP leader has also been in touch with Kishor.