- Misa Bharti said it was common for brothers to have strained relations
- Her admission is a blow to her father and party chief Lalu Yadav
- Later she went back on her statement saying it had been twisted
Confirming speculation that all is not well in the Lalu Yadav clan, his daughter Misa Bharti on Monday acknowledged "manmutav" or differences between her brothers Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav.
Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha parliamentarian of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the oldest of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi's nine children, said at a party meet: "Five fingers are never the same. In my family there are differences between my brothers...RJD is a bigger family."
She added that it was "common these days" for brothers in any family to have strained relations.
It was at a "Litti-Chokha" get-together of party workers on the outskirts of Patna that she let the proverbial cat out of the bag. The place where she addressed the crowds is a part of the Patliputra constituency, where she lost in 2014 and pledged to contest again.
Misa's admission, though tempered somewhat by the claim that there are enough votes coming to the party, is a blow to her father and party chief Lalu Yadav.
Last week, the jailed Bihar politician, desperate to keep his family united while he serves his sentence for corruption, summoned both brothers to Ranchi, where he is being treated at a jail hospital.
The family meeting was aimed at de-escalation, with the tension between the brothers almost paralyzing party activity just months before the 2019 national election.
Tejashwi, the 29-year-old former cricketer now seen as his father's political heir, denied any bickering with his older brother. His father warned that the sibling rivalry could not have peaked at a worse time for the party.
Tejashwi and Tej Pratap were both ministers in Bihar till last year, when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dumped the RJD and revived his ties with the BJP. Nitish Kumar cited corruption charges against Tejashwi, who was his deputy, as the reason behind the swap.
When Tejashwi, after his father's imprisonment, took control as the state opposition leader and showed immense promise, Misa, a doctor, and Tej Pratap, an actor, reportedly chafed at their younger brother's rising stature in the party.
Pointedly, Misa on Monday said if anybody wanted to fight with her from the front, she could "fight like Queen Lakshmibai of Jhansi bai." If anybody back-stabbed her, she said, she would not forgive them. She took no names, leaving plenty of room for interpretation.
When the news clip was aired in some local channels, Misa Bharti back-stepped and said, "My statement has been twisted. I had asked party workers to remain united and forget differences, the comment was not on our family. Our family is united, there are no differences between us".