Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday took to Twitter to explain why he was not seen in public at a time Bihar is dealing with an encephalitis breakout that has claimed the lives of more than 150 children. Yadav claimed he had been undergoing treatment for the last few weeks for a ligament injury, and blamed his opponents and the media for “cooking up spicy stories” about his absence.

“Friends! For last few weeks I was busy undergoing treatment for my long delayed ligament and ACL injury,” Yadav tweeted. “However, I am amused to see political opponents as well as a section of media cooking up spicy stories.”

Yadav, who is the leader of the Opposition in the state, had not been heard from since the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. According to reports, he was last seen on May 28 at the party’s review meeting of the results. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance swept the polls in the state, winning 39 of the 40 parliamentary seats. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader was criticised by the Opposition on Friday as the Bihar Assembly’s monsoon session started.

Yadav claimed that he tracked the updates on the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the state during his time away from the public eye. “Constantly following up the untimely loss of hundreds of poor kids due to AES,” he tweeted. “In this tragic moment asked party workers, leaders to visit affected families without getting into photo op and MPs to raise it in Parliament and that is why PM responded.”

Last week, posters were put up in Muzaffarpur district announcing a cash reward of Rs 5,100 for anyone able to trace the “missing” Rashtriya Janata Dal leader. Yadav is one of the most vociferous critics of the Nitish Kumar-led government.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal assured his followers that “he was very much there” and was still accountable to “people who look for a socialist-secular and social justice alternative in us.” He warned that the “fight is on.”

“Recent developments helped me study, scrutinise, analyse and appraise the things in a different way,” Yadav said. “Since its birth RJD has been at the centre of poor peoples’ struggle and that position is not lost only because of an electoral defeat. Wish to assure people of Bihar as well as our spirited cadre, we are going to fight with renewed commitment on everyday life issues of poor.”

On Friday, when asked about the whereabouts of Tejashwi Yadav, his mother Rabri Devi and the leader of the Opposition in the legislative council, had snapped and said: “He is inside your homes.”

Later she had said, “He is not hiding or loitering around. Wherever he is, he is doing the job that is expected of him.”

Leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal had tried to explain Tejashwi Yadav’s absence, but his whereabouts were not known to most leaders in the party.

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