Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and top RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s rivalry with BJP MP and Union home minister Nityanand Rai has continued to rage.
While taking his position on the latest CBI raids in many locations, including several RJD leadership buildings in connection with the job-for-country scam, Tejashwi, 32, pointed his guns at Rai, 56, without naming him. “Thandaa denge, Delhi wale bachane nahi aayenge (We will make you sober. People from the Center would not come to save you),” he said on Thursday, referring to Rai and adding that the BJP leader commutes too often between Patna and Delhi nowadays. He also took a swipe at Rai’s ambition to become the Bihar CM.
Rai, who was then addressing a public meeting in Samastipur, hit back at Tejashwi and dug to the first and said, “Hamko thandaa do bhai (Please make me sober). Bhains ka doodh peene se log thanda ho jaate hain (buffalo milk keeps one calm).”
This was the second time in less than two months that Tejashwi launched a sharp attack on Rai. Last month, he had charged that Rai had once approached the RJD leadership asking that he join the party while he had not become a minister.
Rai had then flatly rejected his claim, saying that he had always been in a better political position in the BJP, as the BJP President of the State and later as the Member of Parliament and Union Minister, which is why the claims were from Tejashwi “completely hollow”.
There could be a number of reasons why Tejashwi is repeatedly targeting Rai. First off, the RJD looks jittery as several central agencies like the CBI and ED have stepped up their raids on the premises of various RJD leaders in recent weeks. Tejashwi could publicly claim that they are not “afraid of central authorities”, but there seem to be signs of unease and concern at 10, Circular Road in Patna – the residence of ex-CM Rabri Devi and her husband and RJD- Chief Lalu Prasad.
The BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Sushil Kumar Modi, has carried out a frontal attack on Tejashwi, reminding him of his older brother and current minister Tej Pratap Yadav, who recently appointed a close assistant to Tejashwi to own a shopping mall.
Tejashwi reportedly believes Rai could be responsible for the central agencies’ action to intensify their attacks on the RJD leaders in the case-by-country case. He himself was one of the suspects in the 2017 IRCTC case. As the RJD accuses the BJP of “political vendetta”, the latter could be concerned about the RJD’s return to power after the saffron party kills its former ally and CM Nitish Kumar lost to the Mahagathbandhan (the major alliance led by the RJD).
Another reason behind Tejashwi’s repeated attack on Rai is his constant aspiration to become, like his father Lalu Prasad earlier, the main leader of the Yadav community in Bihar. This is why when Yadav leaders of the BJP try to make their presence known, Tejashwi would go after them. He had also previously attacked former BJP minister and Yadav leader Ramsurat Rai.
One of the most high-profile Bihar BJP leaders and a prominent Yadav leader, Rai, who is close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has tried to profile himself as the party’s potential CM candidate for the polls. of the 2025 Assembly.
Rai, the two-time Ujiyarpur MP, has significant influence in the state’s Hajipur belt. Tejashwi has already made his mark as a top state leader leading the RJD’s campaign in the 2020 Assembly polls, when the party put in an impressive performance and became the largest party despite Lalu’s absence. Wanting to maintain momentum in his favor, Tejashwi is always out to neutralize any leadership challenge from a fellow Yadav leader.
With Rai taking stances with prime ministerial ambition, Tejashwi hasn’t missed a single chance to shoot for him, even if it means implicitly accepting him as a challenger to Yadav’s leadership.
Lalu also used this strategy during his heyday. First, he had wiped out the influence of senior Yadav leaders such as Anup Lal Mandal, Vinayak Mandal and Gajendra Himanshu to become the leader of the opposition after the death of former CM and socialist icon Karpoori Thakur. Later, Lalu took on Janata Dal colleague Sharad Yadav, although the latter had little political importance in Bihar. He did not even allow the rise of former MPs Rajesh Ranjan or Pappu Yadav.
However, while committed to forming a rainbow social coalition outside of the RJD’s “MY (Muslim-Yadav)” support base, which he calls its “A to Z” approach, Tejashwi can continue to focus on strengthening his position as the chief leader of Yadavs, the largest OBC bloc representing 14 percent of the state’s population. It’s entirely possible that he sees his current stint as the DCM as an “incubation period” before he could finally take the reins as the CM. So at this stage, he was more concerned with keeping his core support base intact before making efforts to expand it for wider adoption.