- Tejashwi Yadav is son of Lalu Yadav and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister
- Targets Rahul Gandhi by saying "part-time politics is not ok"
- Doesn't name boss Nitish Kumar but accuses him of opportunism
Tejashwi Yadav's father, Lalu Yadav, has accused the Chief Minister of "a historic blunder" in supporting their rival BJP in the election for President of India. The Congress is their junior partner in the Bihar government and has led the initiative to field former Speaker Meira Kumar, who is from Bihar, as the candidate of a united opposition against the BJP, Ram Nath Kovind, who was Governor of Bihar till last week. Both candidates are Dalits.
Chiding Nitish Kumar without naming him, Tejashwi Yadav said today, "With our opportunistic behavior or political manipulations we may score a few goals, make or break governments but history unlike the television anchors shall bear witness to the fact that when people needed us to strengthen the cause of progressive and people-centered politics, we decided to look the other way."
Nitish Kumar's party is not ignoring the critique.
Spokesperson Sanjay Singh said "We are shocked by this latest statement and it's unfortunate ... Right now, I don't which leader he's targeting but it will weaken ties."
Tejashwi Yadav's appraisal was expressed in his "Dil Ki Baat", a series of columns that he pats on Facebook and Twitter, a practice inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's immensely popular "Mann Ki Baat" radio addresses.
Tejashwi Yadav does not mention the Congress or Rahul Gandhi either, but is it clear who or what he means when he says, "The opposition parties also need to realise that politics cannot be a part-time venture".
Mr Gandhi, 47, has commissioned considerable criticism by deciding to travel abroad for a holiday with his grandmother while his party tries to serve as the glue keeping the opposition together.
Lalu Yadav and the Congress are both aware of the likely consequences of Nitish Kumar and the BJP voting together- a renewal of a long partnership that ended in 2013 with unseemly exchanges of recriminations.
Tejashwi Yadav's own role in possibly nudging Nitish Kumar towards the BJP should not be underestimated. He is named in a series of corruption cases along with brother Tej Pratap, who is also a minister in Bihar, and sister Misa Bharati, who is a parliamentarian. The charges of venality have done little to improve their working relationship with the Chief Minister who has often found them missing from important government functions and discussions in the legislature.
When the Yadavs' properties were recently raided by tax officials in connection with the corruption cases, Lalu Yadav tweeted that the BJP was welcome to its new allies. Nitish Kumar's party bristled at the innuendo that they had in some way assisted or encouraged the searches. Lalu Yadav clarified that what he meant was that the CBI was serving as the government's hit-man. But the explanation was weak and was quickly demolished by senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who told NDTV that documents that allegedly incriminated the Yadavs had in fact been purveyed by Nitish Kumar's party.
Lalu Yadav and the Congress believe that they have in some way checkmated Nitish Kumar by choosing a Dalit woman for President whose father, freedom fighter Jagjivan Ram, belonged to Bihar. Their calculation - at the very least, their hope - is that Bihar voters will dock him for opting instead to back Ram Nath Kovind who may have served in Bihar, but is from Uttar Pradesh.
The Chief Minister says there is a fundamental flaw in this criticism: it overlooks the fact that the opposition is knowingly leading to defeat "a daughter of Bihar". The BJP and its allies have enough regional parties in their pyramid to prop up Ram Nath Kovind all the way to the top. Does Meira Kumar not deserve more than a losing chance, he has asked.
While he, like the Congress and Lalu Yadav, has asserted that their combine in Bihar is not being tested by their differences over the Presidential election, the daily jousting demonstrates the growing crater that the alliance has run into.