Tej Pratap Yadav is yet to see Raj Laxmi, his bride to be. But he knows together, they hold the key to a major political marriage that would bring more than two powerful families together. Foreign-educated Tej Pratap, 27, is an MP from Mainpuri. More importantly, he is the grand-newphew of Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav.
And Raj Laxmi, 24, is Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad’s youngest daughter. Their romance has blossomed since the two Yadav families met in Lucknow for shagun – pre-engagement ritual – on December 7. “I spoke to her for the first time after the ceremony and am looking forward to our first meeting on December 16,” Tej Pratap told HT.
December 16 is the day of their engagement at a Delhi farmhouse, where UP’s first family and that of Lalu in Bihar would converge. The marriage is likely in February.
For many in UP, the upcoming event is a throwback to the days when marriages sealed alliances between kingdoms across the Gangetic plain.
Others see it as a precursor to the December 22 dharna the Janata Parivar constituents plan to stage at Jantar Mantar.
Tej Pratap is excited that the match made by “our elders” would bring the two political parties and the two states together.
“I hope Raj Laxmi can adjust to life in our ancestral village Saifai, but she is excited too,” he said.
So is Mulayam, who has finally kept his word of bringing a bride from Lalu’s family. The former had earlier sought his son and UP chief minister Akhilesh’s marriage with the latter’s daughter. But Akhilesh was already committed to Dimple Rawat.
That aside, the two political patriarchs had their differences since 1990 when Lalu, as Bihar chief minister stopped LK Advani’s Rath Yatra on the border with UP in an alleged show of one-upmanship.
In 1997, Lalu threw a spanner in Mulayam’s bid to become the prime minister. They exchanged barbs in December 2013 too.
The matrimonial alliance has renewed their personal and political friendship.
SP insiders say Mulayam perhaps knew Lalu would like a man with some political status as his son-in-law. So he created space for Tej Pratap to be elevated from block pramukh to MP from Mainpuri earlier this year.
Amid the euphoria, Tej Pratap wishes his father and Mulayam’s nephew Ranbir Singh Yadav were alive to witness the momentous alliance. Ranbir, who died in 2002, was an important cog in the SP wheel.
For the time being, the SP chief has kept people guessing about the ‘bigger wedding’ – union of various regional forces that branched out of the Janata Dal. Both SP and RJD are dependent on Yadavs who form 20% of India’s population and together with the communities Nitish Kumar’s JD-U caters to, could make the elusive Third Front count across 120 Lok Sabha seats straddling UP and Bihar.