Business Standard

Tej Pratap: In the shadow of his younger brother


IANS Patna
He may be the elder son of Bihar's first and powerful political family, but is not its heir apparent as his younger brother has been chosen for the all important role in the politics.
And herein lies the pain of Tej Pratap Yadav, 30, elder son of jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.
Lalu expected "Tej" to be what his name in Hindi suggests -- fast and sharp. But sensing that he wasn't, the patriarch carefully pushed younger brother Tejashwi over Tej Pratap in politics.
In 2015, when the RJD, the JD-U and the Congress-led Mahagathbandhan came to power in Bihar, Tejashwi was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister, while Tej Pratap had to settle for ministership.
In the party too, Lalu promoted Tejashwi more vigorously and Tej Pratap repeatedly expressed his unhappiness over that. Much to his envy, the RJD is projecting Tejashwi as its chief ministerial candidate in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls.
But after Tejashwi was made the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tej Pratap started embarrassing his family in public. Last year, he even spoke of instructions to the party from "the top" to "ignore and sideline" him.
Understandably, his public utterances have led to acrimony between him and Tejashwi. But Tej Pratap blames some party leaders with vested interests for trying to drive a wedge between the brothers and has cautioned the party against such elements.
A few months ago in a reference to Tejashwi, the elder brother expressed his anguish saying he was ready to hand over the reins of Hastinapur to Arjun and move to Dwarka. "Mera sochna hai ki main Arjun ko Hastinapur ki gaddi par baithaoon aur khud Dwarka chala jaoon," he said.
Though less educated than him (Tej Pratap is class 12 pass), cricketer-turned-politician Tejashwi (a class 10 pass) is a good public speaker.
Spiritually-inclined Tej Pratap, on the other hand, is known to make headlines not so much for his politics as he does for his rustic living and controversial statements.
He wears a rudraksha around his neck and sports a tilak on his forehead and is known to organise religious rituals. He also has a penchant for getting himself photographed dressed up as Hindu deities Shiva and Krishna.
"Tej Pratap is interested in politics. But he was forced into spirituality after being sidelined in the party. He regularly visits Mathura, Varanasi and local temples in and around Patna," said an RJD leader close to Lalu's family.
Tej Pratap admits he is religious, but clarifies he is not a fanatic. In 2017, he formed the Dharmanirpeksh (Secular) Sevak Sangh (DSS), a youth organisation to counter the RSS in Bihar. "My religion teaches me compassion, not hatred. Everybody is equal for me. Those who do politics of religion won't understand that," he said.
He has also dabbled in cinema. After joining active politics, Tej Pratap played hero in Hindi film "Rudra". He even played chief minister in a Bhojpuri film in 2016, when he was the Health Minister.
In November 2018, Tej Pratap shocked everyone when he filed for divorce from his wife Aishwarya Rai, just six months after their marriage. The case is pending before the court.
The family tried to persuade him to take back the case, which led to differences between the kins. Since then Tej Pratap has distanced himself from his family, including his mother Rabri Devi. He is lives alone in his official bungalow in Patna, away from his family.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 10:46 PM IST

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