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:
Dear @RifatJawaid ,
Thanks for bringing this in my knowledge. I tender sincere apology to you on his behalf. He has been sacked from his post with immediate effect as Block President of Chatra RJD.
We don’t promote or encourage such unsocial elements. Again my apologies. pic.twitter.com/3boGQLB93e
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) May 1, 2018
The actions of RJD leader received a lot of praise from many prominent personalities.
NDTV news anchor Nidhi Razdan tweeted in support:
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) May 1, 2018
Author and journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted:
Great job @yadavtejashwi wish your seniors in politics such as @PMOIndia at least stop following trolls who indulge in daily incitement, death & rape threats. Celebrate the murder of journalists https://t.co/7t3A6Geuz7
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) May 1, 2018
Business journalist Rohini Singh also came out in support of the former deputy chief minister of Bihar:
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) May 1, 2018
Journalist Rifat Jawaid also came out in support of Tejashwi Yadav and lauded his efforts:
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) May 1, 2018
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.