Veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav’s decision on Sunday to merge his outfit with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is understandable. Amidst the shrinking opposition space in the country’s polity, the 74-year-old Yadav retains none of the spark of yore and has been confronting serious health issues as well. The prospects of having to vacate 7, Tughlaq Road – the Lutyens Delhi bungalow that has been his home for decades – have turned real following the High Court’s order last Tuesday, asking him to vacate within 15 days. By amalgamating the Loktantrik Janata Dal –the party he launched in 2017 following his expulsion from the Janata Dal (United) – with the RJD, he can hope to get rehabilitated in the Rajya Sabha. And, as a consequence, regain the Tughlaq Road – or another official bungalow. Sources further said that the senior Yadav’s hopes also are that the RJD would provide a launch pad for the political entry of his son Shantanu Bundela.
What is not understandable is this: Beyond the symbolism of having a past superstar of OBC politics join him, what does Tejaswi Yadav or the RJD gain from the merger? As the 2020 Bihar elections and the recent UP elections have shown, both Tejaswi and Akhilesh Yadav failed to deliver the knockout punch in electoral terms because of the inability of their respective parties to create a third vertical of supporters beyond the traditional vote Banks comprising the Yadav’s and Muslims. Tejaswi could therefore be inclined to ignore the patriarch’s claims and, instead, nominate a backward leader to the Rajya Sabha in order to promote and create a new vote back for the party. Shantanu Bundela could be given some responsibilities but, in all probabilities, he would have to wait out his turn.
Five vacancies to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar will arise next month. Among those completing their terms include Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti apart from Satish Chandra Dubey, Vivek Thakur, Gopal Narain Singh and RCP Singh. A sixth vacancy was caused recently because of the death of JD (U) member Mahendra Prasad – also known as King Mahendra. Given the party’s strength in the Bihar assembly, the RJD can send two members to the Rajya Sabha. It is being taken as fairly certain that one of these will go to RJD’s first family: Misa Bharti or Rabri Devi. Sharad Yadav has placed his bets – unreasonably so – on the second vacancy.
Journalist by accident, rail, travel and political buff by choice - dissenter by compulsion. Interested in policy and governance.