Lalu Prasad's RJD, which has reeled under a cold war between his two sons for quite some time, was on Wednesday embarrassed by a spat among its old guard.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the party's outspoken national vice-president, launched a veiled attack on the newly appointed state president Jagadanand Singh, alleging that the party office almost resembled a "government office". Both leaders have been associated with the RJD since its inception in 1997.
"Discipline ought to be self-enforced and not imposed from outside. It needs to be appreciated that our party workers are not our paid employees.
"We must try not to make the party office resemble a government office," the RJD vice-president told reporters in an apparent reference to a recent restriction barring entry of visitors to the party-state chief's chamber without a permit.
He, however, did not elaborate as to what had got his goat, but RJD sources said he had been unhappy with the style of functioning of Jagadanand Singh - a man of few words, known to be a stickler for propriety.
The sources also said on condition of anonymity that Jagadanand Singh's appointment, last month, as the state unit president has hogged the limelight by virtue of his being the first upper caste leader to hold the post.
This has not gone well with former minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh - who is also a Rajput like Jagadanand Singh and considered by many as the party's most well-known face from the influential community.
When asked about the former Union minister's outbursts, the state RJD chief deftly replied, "I am just heading the state unit. He, as a national vice-president, holds an office higher than mine. I will consult him and try to remove shortcomings in my working that I may not be aware of."
Jagadanand Singh, however, added, "The re-election of Lalu Prasad as the national president took place at the party office yesterday. My impression is that it went off fine. Nobody was unhappy with the state of affairs. Moreover, our party workers are a bold and assertive lot, they are unlikely to feel slighted over any trifle."
Notably, the state unit chief and the national vice- president were present at the RJD state headquarters here on Tuesday when nomination papers were filed on behalf of the jailed party supremo by his sons Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, both of whom made a rare joint appearance putting aside their tug of war.
There are also speculations that Raghuvansh Prasad Singh may have felt rebuffed as, barely a day after his having made a fresh pitch for the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's return to the anti-NDA front, Jagadanand Singh had asserted "there is going to be no compromise on Tejashwi's leadership".
Meanwhile, the chief minister's Janata Dal (United) took a swipe at the RJD and expressed sympathy with Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, claiming that he "does not shy away from speaking his mind".
"It has become evident that in the RJD, there is no space for you unless you are in the good books of Lalu's TTM - Tejashwi, Tej Pratap and Misa (eldest daughter)," JD(U) spokesman Nikhil Mandal said.
Interestingly, "TTM" has been a popular term in the political lexicon of Bihar, coined by Lalu Prasad, who had come up with it as an abbreviation of "tabadtod tel malish" - a slangy metaphor for sycophancy.
"Raghuvansh babu is one person in the RJD, who has always been known to speak his mind. He is right in giving vent to the anguish that he may have felt over being continually sidelined in the party, of which he is a founding member," Nikhil Mandal added.