Patna: At a time when Lalu Prasad Yadav’s entire family has come under the scanner of the central probe agencies in connection with the alleged land-for-job scam, the only one untouched is Lalu’s elder son, Tej Pratap Yadav. Political watchers in Bihar don’t see this as a mere chance happening, and accord political importance to the development, given the way things are unfolding in Bihar.
This overlooking of Tej Pratap in no way seems accidental, given that houses and properties linked to Lalu’s daughters, Chanda, Ragini, and Hema, and their in-laws have also been raided. The probe agencies also carried out raids at Rajya Sabha member and Lalu’s eldest daughter Misa Bharati’s residence.
Lalu’s second daughter, Rohini Acharya, who donated her kidney to him last December, lives in Singapore while the youngest in the family of nine, Raj Lakshmi, is married to Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the grand-nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He was an MP from the Samajwadi Party.
His sixth daughter, Anushka, is married to Chiranjeev Rao, the son of Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, a former Congress minister in Haryana. Rao is a youth Congress leader. Thus, the last two sons-in-law of Lalu are in politics themselves.
Even in 2017, when the central agencies swung into action against the RJD top brass, Tej Pratap was excluded – even though he served as the health minister of Bihar as part of the Mahagathbandhan government between 2015 and 2017. Coming under pressure, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar switched sides to rejoin the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Interestingly, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to Patna on January 5, 2017, on the occasion of the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, he, in a private get-together, referred to Tej Pratap as Krishna. This was simply because, on New Year’s Day in 2017, Tej Pratap dressed up as Krishna. That photo went viral then.
Tej Pratap Yadav and controversies
Unlike Tejashwi, Tej Pratap has been embroiled in several controversies much to the embarrassment of the Lalu family. This included his marriage to Aishwarya Rai, daughter of former RJD minister Chandrika Rai, and granddaughter of former Bihar chief minister Daroga Prasad Rai. The family did try to save the marriage but to no avail.
Besides, he got into verbal duels with the senior BJP leader in Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, especially on the eve of the marriage of the latter’s son.
Notwithstanding Tej Pratap’s maverick temperament which had landed the family in trouble, the central agencies have not targeted him. Bihar political watchers attribute political meaning to it.
Incidentally, when Lalu became the railway minister in May 2004, Tejashwi, the youngest son was only 14 years and six months old. Tej Pratap was 16 and yet his name did not figure in the alleged land-for-job scam. The case goes back to the time when Lalu served as railway minister in the first United Progressive Alliance government between 2004 and 2009.
While Misa and Tejashwi are MP and deputy chief minister respectively at present, Tej Pratap is a minister in the Nitish cabinet. Meanwhile, Lalu’s daughters Chanda, Ragini, and Hema do not nurse any political ambition and are not posing any threat to the ruling party at the Centre. Yet they have not been spared by probe agencies.
If the opposition parties in Bihar are accusing the BJP of misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department against all the political rivals, what they overlook is the case of Tej Pratap Yadav and others who the BJP see (and saw) as potential defectors to its side when required.
This was also seen before in the case of Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Suvendu Adhikari (West Bengal), and Hardik Patel (Gujarat) to name a few. Once they crossed over to the saffron camp, cases against them were kept in cold storage. Perhaps, Tej Pratap’s exclusion should be seen from the same perspective.
Soroor Ahmed is a Patna-based freelance journalist.