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Tejashwi Yadav Sacking RJD Member For Online Abuse Was Just A Marketing Gimmick

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Founder of Janta Ka Reporter Rifat Jawaid tweeted how the block president of Chatra Rashtriya Janata Dal (CRJD) had used abusive language on Twitter against him. In the tweet, he tagged Tejashwi Yadav, the former deputy chief minister of Bihar and the current leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly and Misa Bharti – current Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP in the Rajya Sabha. Both are children of RJD national president Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been convicted in multiple cases related to the fodder scam which involved the embezzlement of  ₹950 crore from the Bihar state treasury from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The response of Tejashwi Yadav was prompt. He tweeted:

The actions of RJD leader received a lot of praise from many prominent personalities.

NDTV news anchor Nidhi Razdan tweeted in support:

Author and journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted:

Business journalist Rohini Singh also came out in support of the former deputy chief minister of Bihar:

Journalist Rifat Jawaid also came out in support of Tejashwi Yadav and lauded his efforts:

Janta Ka Reporter would also go on to write a post praising the actions of Tejashwi Yadav.

While trolling has become a major concern in the online space, especially on Twitter, should we see the actions of Tejashwi Yadav as part of a politics to clean up ‘unsocial’ elements within his party? The effort certainly needs to be lauded if it was done for that purpose. However, that probably was not the case since activities of certain members of the  Rashtriya Janata Dal, including the national president of the party Lalu Prasad Yadav and his eldest son and RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav have come under a lot of criticism.

For example, let us begin by taking the example of some of the actions of RJD national president Lalu Yadav who is currently serving his sentence for being convicted in multiple cases related to the fodder scam. In June 2017, when Lalu Prasad Yadav was questioned by a Republic TV journalist for his relations with convicted-criminal politician Mohammad Shahabuddin, he ended up shouting at the journalist. When the journalist said, “Savaal pooch rahe hain aapse (Asking you a question.), he responded by saying, “Apne baap se poocho.” (Ask your father.).

On the very same day, when another Republic TV journalist told Lalu Prasad Yadav that he had misbehaved with the reporter, the veteran politician lost his cool and said,”Fir wahi baat kar raha hai. De denge dumka naach ke gir jayega.” (Again, saying the same thing. Will punch you so hard that you’ll dance and fall.)

Republic TV had been aggressively going after the corruption charges against both Lalu Prasad Yadav and other members of his family. On the day of the launch of the channel last year in May 2017, it had released the audio tape of a phone conversation between Lalu Yadav and Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was lodged in jail. Lalu Yadav had later accepted in a rally in Siwan that it indeed was his voice in the tape which the Republic TV had exposed.

As recently as February 2018, Hena Shahab, the wife of Mohammad Shahabuddin was included in the national executive committee of the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

It’s not just Lalu Yadav. His eldest son has had to face the brunt of many controversies as well.

In June 2017, RJD worker Sanoj Yadav had alleged that Tej Pratap Yadav had given him death threats and used abusive language against him in an iftaar party which had been organised by the RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav. He had also claimed that Lalu Prasad Yadav was present at the spot but did not intervene. Sanoj Yadav would later go on to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

While the above allegation has not been proven yet, Tej Pratap Yadav has been shown on camera making many controversial statements in the last two years. In July 2016, Tej Pratap Yadav had threatened to file a defamation case against a journalist if he did not delete a particular video of Tej Yadav going through the clicks of a press photographer.

In October 2016, he had said, “Is Sushil Modi’s son impotent?”

In November 2017, Tej Pratap Yadav had also threatened to vandalise the wedding of Sushil Modi’s son.

In the same month, Tej Pratap Yadav had said,”… Narendra Modi ka khaal udharwa denge hum.” (… will skin Narendra Modi…) This was after Lalu Yadav’s Z plus security had been withdrawn by the central government.

It’s not just members of the family of Tejashwi Yadav, who have been caught in such controversies. In an audio tape of a phone conversation which got leaked in June 2017, a voice said to be of RJD MLA Neeraj Yadav was heard threatening a journalist from Prabhat Khabar. In the conversation, he can be heard saying, “…goli maar denge tumhare mooh mein…” (will shoot you in your mouth), apart from using a series of expletives such as ‘madarchod’, ‘randi ka aulad‘ and ‘behnchod‘. It was reported by Hindi news channels and papers, however, was not covered in the English media. Neeraj Yadav in a press conference had denied that the voice was his.

However, the RJD did not carry out any investigation nor did they suspend the MLA.

In October 2016, media reports had said that Lalu Prasad Yadav had met suspended RJD MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav, who is accused of raping a 15-year-old minor girl.

According to a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms in November 2017, 46 of the 80 RJD MLAs had criminal cases against them, out of which 34 were very serious in nature.

Is there any point in publicising the action taken against block level leaders for online abuse when the national president is a convict in a scam worth hundreds of crores, important leaders threaten violence and almost half of the party MLAs have serious criminal cases against them?

Abuse on Twitter and online hate is a major concern which needs strong action from political parties. However, when this is done in isolation, it seems nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

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Image source: Tejashwi Yadav/ Facebook, Rifat Jawaid/Twitter
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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