In a remark that could trigger fresh speculation about a rift in the family of Lalu Prasad, his elder son, Tej Pratap Yadav, on Monday said he would not shy away from being the leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), if he is given a chance.
"Why not?" said Tej Pratap when asked whether he was ready to take over the reins of the RJD. Tej Pratap was talking to the media at after launching a daily Janta Durbar programme.
There have been reports that Tej Pratap has been feeling uneasy with the growing clout of his younger and more savvy brother Tejashwi, who has emerged as the party's de-facto leader in the absence of Lalu Prasad.
When the RJD lost power after Nitish Kumar quit the ruling alliance, Tejashwi was made the leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly.
Only a week ago, Tej Pratap had announced that he would now actively take interest in the RJD affairs.
Tej Pratap and Tejashwi made their electoral debut simultaneously in the 2015 assembly elections in Bihar. While Tej Pratap was made a cabinet minister, Tejashwi was appointed as the deputy chief minister.
After announcing the commencement of his daily Janta Durbar programme at the RJD office, Tej Pratap spent nearly four hours inside the chamber that had been reserved for his father Lalu Prasad, sitting on his chair, listening to the grievances of party supporters.
"The leadership vests with the people and I am here to serve them," he added.
Tej Pratap, an RJD legislator and a former minister in the Bihar Cabinet, was on a prolonged state of reclusion after he sought a divorce six months ago, along with an apparent tiff with his family over their refusal to back his decision to separate from his wife Aishwarya.
Last week, the Nitish Kumar government allotted him a bungalow near his mother Rabri Devi's home as he was reportedly reluctant to live with his family.
Lalu Prasad also lived in that house before he was jailed in a fodder scam case.
Tej Pratap said he will hold similar Janta Durbar hearings at various places, including his assembly constituency Mahua.
"I do not wish to cause inconvenience to our supporters living away from Patna," he said.
During a national council of the RJD held in Patna last year, the party unanimously passed a resolution to declare Tejashwi as the chief ministerial candidate for the next assembly elections in Bihar.
Tej Pratap, drawing an analogy from the Mahabharata, has often remarked that he saw his younger brother as Arjuna and himself as Lord Krishna.
The remark has been construed by opposition parties like the BJP as an expression of resentment against Lalu Prasad for favoring the Tejashwi and ignoring claims by Tej Pratap.
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