Lalu Prasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP, and elder son Tej Pratap Yadav have been omitted from RJD's star campaigners' list released on Thursday for the upcoming by-elections to a couple of assembly seats in Bihar, a development seen as an attempt to push them to the margins in an intra-family feud to control the single largest party in the state assembly.
The move is being seen as further sidelining of the elder siblings in the party founded and headed by the father who has made little secret of his preference for younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly.
The list, signed by the party's principal national secretary general Abdul Bari Siddiqui, comprises 20 names, including Lalu Prasad, who is now out of jail and, if his health permits, can canvass for his party's candidates for Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan assembly constituencies.
Another notable omission is that of Prasad's wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi, a demure housewife-turned-politician, who has of late seemed more content playing the role of the family matriarch that often betrays hints of being torn apart by competing ambitions of her children.
RJD sources, however, asserted that much should not be read into the development since even those not figuring among "star campaigners" do happen to canvass for the party, provided the candidate in the fray is willing to foot the expenses.
Nonetheless, the BJP, which is now the RJD's principal rival in the state, latched on the opportunity to fish in troubled waters.
"It is a clear signal to both Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti that they are no longer desired in the RJD and they must fend for themselves. Tej Pratap has already floated his own organisation while Misa, a Rajya Sabha member, looks unlikely to be considered for another term," state BJP spokesman and national general secretary of OBC morcha Nikhil Anand said in a statement.
The Congress, which has been left in a daze by the RJD's unilateral announcement of candidates for Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan, also appeared to be hopeful of getting something out of the intra-family dynamics that control its bigger ally.
Ashok Ram, who had contested the reserved Kusheshwar Asthan seat in the assembly polls last year and whose son Atirek is the candidate for the upcoming by-poll, was quoted in media as saying that he will try to rope in Tej Pratap for the Congress campaign.
Meanwhile, the Left Front, which has been livid over former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar switching over to the Congress, has announced its full support to the RJD in the upcoming by-polls.
The CPI (ML) Liberation, the CPI and the CPI (M) together have about 20 MLAs and, along with the Congress, they are a part of the five-party Grand Alliance helmed by the RJD.
When chief minister Nitish Kumar, whose JD (U) had won both the seats in the assembly polls, was asked about his take on the infighting in the opposition camp, said,"It is for you journalists to analyse."
The JD (U) has announced its candidates for both seats, which it seeks to retain with the backing of the BJP and smaller NDA partners like the Hindustani Awam Morcha and Vikassheel Insaan Party.
Voting will take place for the two seats on October 30 and results will be out on November 2.