Patna, May 29
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on Friday and urged him to convene a special session of the assembly on law and order and other pressing issues, shortly after he was stopped by police from going to Gopalganj district in a massive procession.
The police personnel, who thwarted his attempt to proceed towards Gopalganj, took exception to RJD workers flouting social-distancing norms.
Earlier, a high drama unfolded outside the residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi which Tejashwi Yadav shares with her and where he had summoned party workers, including all members of the legislature, to join him in the march towards Gopalganj.
Yadav has been upset over the “failure” of the police to arrest JD(U) MLA Amar Nath Pandey alias Pappu Pandey who is named in an FIR lodged following an attack on RJD worker JP Yadav at Gopalganj, on Sunday last, which the party activist survived but his brother and parents died.
After a few hours of slogan-shouting and shoving on the pathways leading to 10, Circular Road, the palatial bungalow allotted to Rabri Devi, a stone’s throw from Raj Bhavan and the official residence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Yadav relented and decided to meet the assembly speaker instead.
Emerging after the meeting where he was accompanied by elder brother and MLA Tej Pratap Yadav, RJD state president Jagadanand Singh and national general secretary Alok Mehta, a visibly chastened Tejashwi Yadav told reporters: “It must have been the first instance in the history of democratic politics when the leader of the opposition had to seek permission from authorities before meeting the speaker.”
The 30-year-old younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whom the party has named its chief ministerial candidate, said he has demanded convening of a special session on the delicate situation prevailing in Bihar where law and order has evidently collapsed.
“The government is indifferent to the lot of migrants who have returned in large numbers during the lockdown and the health system is far from adequate to handle a crisis like COVID-19,” he said.
He also lashed out at the government for depriving the opposition party of its right to stage a democratic protest and said: “We were not going to Gopalganj with the intent of ‘maara-peeti’ (brawl). We fail to understand why we were restrained from travelling despite the assurance that we will follow social-distancing norms.”
The incident, meanwhile, brought to the fore fissures within the Grand Alliance which comprises five parties but is headed by the RJD.
Smaller partners such as the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) questioned the RJD leaders’ “selective” volubility on an issue that involved members of his own caste and the district to which Lalu Prasad belonged.
“It seems Tejashwi Yadav and his RJD think nothing of coalition partners. Any protest against the government should involve all opposition parties but they chose to proceed on their own,” lamented Jitan Ram Manjhi who heads the HAM.
Manjhi said he did not disagree with the RJD leaders’ contention that the government was performing badly on all fronts but wondered why he chooses to focus on selective issues.
“He is the leader of the entire opposition. He cannot act in the interests of his own party,” he said.
The RLSP national secretary-general, Madhaw Anand, said: “I second Tejashwi Yadav’s demand for a special session. But I reiterate that if the demand is accepted, he should lend his voice to all victims of violence.”
“He must not be silent when the perpetrator happens to be a Yadav and the victim an upper caste,” Anand said.
The Congress is also part of the opposition coalition in Bihar, but there has been no immediate comment on the episode from any party leader. PTI
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