Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday asserted that he was “in no hurry” to replace his boss Nitish Kumar, rubbishing speculations that his RJD wanted to elbow out the ageing JD(U) leader.
Yadav, who is in his early 30s, also deftly rebuffed queries from journalists as to whether he felt “cheated” by averments of some top JD(U) leaders that the septuagenarian Kumar would complete his five-year tenure ending in 2025 and was “capable of” leading the Mahagathbandhan till 2030.
“What wrong did they say? Indeed he (Nitish) is very much capable. And the longer he stays, the richer will be his experience. I am in no hurry,” said the RJD leader, who returned as Deputy CM in August last year following the JD(U)’s exit from BJP-led NDA.
The statement of Yadav, younger son and heir apparent of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, comes as a reprieve for the JD(U) which recently saw its parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha walking out alleging that a “deal” has been struck with the alliance partner.
Moreover, quite a few MLAs of the RJD, a party not known for restraint in speech, have also been issuing statements that Yadav will be taking over after Holi, which falls in the first week of March.
Yadav said he was concentrating on ensuring the defeat of the BJP in the general elections next year by ensuring that out of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, “They do not win a single seat”.
He also made light of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi expressing the wish that his son Santosh Suman, a minister in the cabinet from the quota of Hindustani Awam Morcha, could be considered for the highest seat of power.
“Is it a sin to have ambitions for one’s children? Do all of you not want to see your sons rise higher than you?” remarked the young, but savvy, politician.
However, Kushwaha, who addressed a press conference at his residence to announce that he would be undertaking a state-wide tour beginning next week, maintained that the RJD and Tejashwi were throwing their weight around and undermining the CM.
“Only yesterday the CM had to keep waiting for a member of his cabinet (Tejashwi) at a function for two hours. It was not a coincidence. It was a snub that followed statements of some top JD(U) leaders who sought to underscore the indispensability of Kumar,” claimed Kushwaha, who has since floated a new outfit Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal.
“When the RJD has the cheek to insult Kumar while he is still the CM, I shudder at what lies in store for the JD(U)”, said the former Union minister, who has been refusing to reveal his cards amid speculations that he was slated to return to the NDA.
However, replying to a pointed query, he ruled out attending a couple of meetings Union Home Minister Amit Shah was slated to address in Bihar later this week.
“Those are BJP events. I cannot be a part when I am not a member of that party,” he pointed out.
Kushwaha drew some praise from senior BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who addressed a press conference to highlight the Union budget’s promises for Bihar and debunk the claims of Mahagathbandhan that the state has been short-changed.
”Kushwaha has decided to resign as a member of the Legislative Council even though he was nominated to the House by the governor and the defection law would not have applied to him. What a contrast with Nitish ji, who keeps changing allies but sticks to power,” said Prasad, who is also the local MP.