Son Tej Pratap Yadav's many rows threaten to soil Lalu Prasad's image again

Tej Pratap Yadav
The crowd was getting bigger and bigger on June 11 to wish Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad on his 70th birthday at his sprawling bungalow here. Despite having recovered from fever, the former railways minister was receiving them with his usual wit.

Presently, Lalu’s wife and former chief minister, Rabri Devi, emerged to wish him with a red rose. A few journalists quizzed her about what kind of bahu (daughter-in-law) she would like for her eldest son and state health minister, Tej Pratap Yadav. “I would like a girl just like me. One who can take care of the family and even deal with outside matters. I don’t want a mall-or-cinema going girl. Do you have someone in your mind?” She asked with a smile. 

Tej Pratap, a college dropout, is no stranger to controversy. From the day he stepped into politics the young Yadav scion has been in the news, mostly for wrong reasons, though. In his election affidavit, Tej Pratap supposedly declared he was 25 years old, a year younger than younger brother, Tejaswi Yadav. Then, while taking oath as minister in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet, he read Apekshit (expected) as Upekshit (neglected) and hence changed the meaning of the oath. Governor Ram Nath Kovind asked him to read it again.

He has been at the centre of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi’s tirade against the first family of the RJD. Modi has alleged the Patna Zoo purchased soil worth Rs 90 lakh from a company that is constructing a mall, dubbed Bihar’s biggest, on a plot owned by the Yadav family. The zoo comes under the state government’s environment and forestry department headed by Tej Pratap. The charges were denied by the government and the RJD.

It emerged soon that despite having no known source of income, the young leader became a crorepati before he turned 20. He purchased 20,000 sqft of land in Aurangabad district for Rs 53.34 lakh in 2009, mortgaged it with a bank, and took a loan of Rs 2.29 crore. He even owns a two-wheeler showroom on the land. It’s also been alleged that he acquired a fuel pump in Patna on the basis of ‘fudged’ documents. Bharat Petroleum has issued him a show-cause notice, which he is yet to respond to.

Facing criticism, it’s said Tej Pratap sought ‘astrological Intervention’ to defeat his ‘enemies’. He is said to have organised a ‘marak yagna’ at his official residence for seven nights to ‘vanquish his political opponents’. He is also said to have bought a car worth Rs 37 lakh for a pilgrimage to Vrindavan. He took his supporters, who were told not to drink or eat non-vegetarian food during the trip. He even changed the main gate of his official residence “to ward off evil spirits”.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the state government are behind him. As regards marriage, however, there are rumours of unease in the family because most of the proposals, especially the “good ones”, are coming for his younger brother and deputy chief minister, Tejaswi. “Why shouldn’t they come for him? Tejaswi is the future of the RJD. Even Laluji has made it very clear,” said a senior leader of the party.

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