Tej Pratap Yadav loves to dress up occasionally like Lord Shiva and as a true blue Krishna devotee, he is adept at playing the flute. He proudly refers to younger brother Tejashwi as his "Arjuna" fighting against the communal forces in Bihar’s electoral Mahabharat. But for the ongoing parliamentary elections, he appears to have abandoned his kid brother’s chariot even before the poll bugle sounded.
If RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav had chosen to anoint Tejashwi as his heir-apparent a few years ago, it was not without reason. The youngest of the state’s Yadav clan had proved himself to be rather quick on the uptake, learning the ropes of politics from his parents, both former CMs.
In contrast, the elder appeared to be immersed in spiritualism, busy organising ‘Hare Krishna’ kirtans, installing Durga idols at his parents’ bungalow and blowing conch shells better than the priests. Politics wasn’t his cup of tea, they thought.
It wasn’t as though he had shunned materialism or politics altogether. He still loved to drive his BMW, ride his CBR 1000 RR superbike and have his retinue of cronies. But it was his apparent disinterest in politics that promoted Laloo to decide which of his two sons was worthier to carry forward his political legacy.
Things began to change in 2015. In the Mahagathbandhan wave, the Yadav brothers won the assembly polls— the elder one, in fact, with a bigger margin. Both subsequently got three key portfolios each in the Nitish Kumar government, but it was Tejashwi who was made the deputy CM at Laloo's behest. Tejashwi proved himself as RJD’s youth icon during the House sessions, which his bada bhai seldom attended. Once he dashed off to Shirdi on one of his spiritual trips when, as the health minister, he was required to remain present in the assembly. But he had apparently started resenting the dominance of his younger brother by then. At a huge rally organised by his father, he once forcibly took the mike to entertain the crowds with a Laloo-style speech.
The sibling rivalry intensified after Laloo went to jail. Tejashwi began to tighten his grip on the party while Tej Pratap further antagonised his parents by filing for divorce from his wife, daughter of senior party leader Chandrika Rai, without their knowledge. In this election, he even threatened to contest against his father-in-law, the party candidate from Saran seat, before Rabri Devi intervened. He also sought RJD tickets for two of his loyal supporters from Sheohar and Jehanabad constituencies, a demand summarily dismissed by Tejashwi.
The party’s enfant terrible is, however, not shorn of ideas. Once, Tej Paratp set up an outfit called Dharmanirpeskha Swayamsevak Sangh (DSS) to counter the RSS in Bihar, but he was never taken seriously in his party. All through this election, his flip-flops have embarrassed RJD leaders but he could not care less about it. As a self-styled “Lord Krishna”, he insists that his only mission is to make his “Arjuna” the next CM. It's another matter that most RJD leaders would like him to leave his chhota bhai alone and keep doing what he loves to do the most: playing the flute.