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Rebel RJD MLA accuses party leadership of discrimination, mistrust

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Patna, Feb 12 (PTI) Rebel RJD MLA Chetan Anand on Monday accused the party leadership of betraying lack of confidence in legislators by insisting that they stay back at Tejashwi Yadav's house ahead of the trust vote for the Nitish Kumar government.

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Anand, who is better known as the son of mafia don-turned-politician Anand Mohan, also called into question Yadav's claim of "A to Z", denoting goodwill towards all sections of the society, including the upper castes, and alleged that he had faced "discrimination" (bhed bhav) in the RJD.

"For quite some time, my family and I have been facing discrimination in the party. It is not just about me. Even in the allocation of ministerial berths in the Mahagathbandhan government, a raw deal to Rajputs and Bhumihars was apparent," said Anand, who along with fellow RJD MLAs Neelam Devi and Prahlad Yadav voted in favour of the trust vote.

Notably, Anand is a Rajput and his father enjoyed cult status among youngsters of the community in his heydays.

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Neelam Devi is married to Anant Singh, a dreaded gangster and former MLA from the Bhumihar community who has been convicted in a UAPA case lodged upon recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition from his Mokama residence.

Anand rued that his mother Lovely Anand, a former MP who was denied a party ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, got a raw deal (andekhi ki gayi) by the RJD and that he felt humiliated when a big controversy arose upon the release from jail of his father, who was facing life sentence for the killing of an IAS officer, beaten to death by a mob three decades ago.

"But the last nail in the coffin came when I was asked to stay back (at Tejashwi's house) after being invited for lunch. I was also denied the permission to go and see my family. Clearly, I was not being trusted," said Anand.

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The 32-year-old MLA, when asked about a video footage in which he seemed to be enjoying a game of cricket and playing the guitar at Tejashwi Yadav's place, said, "It is nothing. You are bound to enjoy the facilities available when you are forced to stay at a place." He declined to comment on rumours that a family member had lodged a police complaint about his disappearance, while he was at Yadav's residence, which led to a team of officials raiding the official bungalow the RJD leader continues to occupy despite having lost the deputy CM's post.

In his speech on the floor of the House, Yadav had also referred to the young MLA as "mera chhota bhai (my younger brother)" and claimed,"We gave him a ticket after he was done with trying his luck in other places.

However, Anand appeared to be nursing a grouse as he remarked, "We were taunted about Thakur's well (Thakur ka kuan). Now it shall be known to all that the well contains a lot of water." The allusion was to the recital of a poem "Thakur Ka Kuan" by RJD national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha on the floor of Parliament.

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Although the verse was composed in the 1970s by Dalit poet Om Prakash Valmiki, the use of the word "Thakur" as a metaphor for feudal oppression by Jha was much resented by Rajput leaders in Bihar, including Chetan Anand and his father.

Notably, Anand had also met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the end of December, just a month ahead of the JD(U) president's exit from the INDIA bloc and return to the BJP-led NDA, fuelling speculations about the family's future political moves.

However, when the young MLA was asked whether he would be joining the BJP or the JD(U), he evaded a direct reply saying, "The circumstances will decide the future course of action." With the three MLAs switching sides, the RJD's effective strength in the assembly has been reduced to 76, two less than that of the BJP.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, a former state BJP president who was present inside the assembly premises to witness the day's proceedings, told reporters, "Tejashwi Yadav used to boast about his party being the single largest. His pride lies in tatters." It was not yet clear whether the RJD would seek the disqualification of the three rebel members.

"Why the three MLAs switched sides is a matter of investigation," said Alok Mehta, RJD national general secretary and a former minister, when he was asked about the development. PTI NAC ACD

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