Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) observed its 24th foundation day today as the party chief's sons along with other members took out a bicycle rally aimed at targeting the ruling NDA over rising petroleum prices.
The party celebrated its foundation day in the absence of its founding president for the third consecutive year, as Lalu Prasad Yadav has been away in Ranchi serving sentences in a number of cases related to the fodder scam.
The RJD was floated on this July 5 in 1997. The party came into being as a result of a split caused in the Janata Dal by Lalu Prasad, who was then its acting president and feared a defeat at the hands of challenger Sharad Yadav in organisational polls.
The move helped the former chief minister to pass the baton to his wife Rabri Devi when he faced imminent arrest after a chargesheet was filed against him in the fodder scam.
"I was too young back then, so I do not remember much of those days. Lalu Yadav is not an individual but an ideology. He is missed not only by us, but the people at large," Lalu Yadav's younger son Tejashwi Yadav said before embarking on the cycle rally.
Mr Tejashwi, who under the wings of his father made a debut in 2015 assembly polls and went on to become the deputy chief minister at 25, is set to face the hustings later this year as his party's chief ministerial candidate and the principal challenger to his former boss Nitish Kumar.
"Bihar owes a lot to Lalu ji in terms of social justice and job creation. Three railway workshops came up in the state when he held the portfolio at the Centre for just five years. At present, when unemployment and petroleum prices are at an all-time high, his interventions would have been invaluable," the leader of the opposition in the state assembly said.
Tejashwi Yadav, who stays with his mother in the house allotted to her in her capacity as a former CM, left for the state headquarters on a bicycle, followed by hundreds of supporters who pedalled through the nearly five-kilometer-long route they took to reach Birchand Patel Marg.
Prominent among those who cycled besides Tejashwi was his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, who recently returned from a pilgrimage to Mathura.
However, en route, the RJD workers had to encounter put up by supporters of the JD(U)-BJP combine, which had defeated the opposition party in the general elections last year.
State minister and senior JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar said: "It is just the beginning. The RJD which stands for nothing except corruption, dynasty rule and patronisation of criminals, will be called out repeatedly for its sins in the days to come."