At 26, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav is perhaps one of the youngest politicians in the country to lead a legislature party.
With Tejashwi’s rise, a new era has begun in the RJD with the leadership passing on to the next generation of Lalu Prasad, who worked strategically to return to power with a convincing victory. The RJD, major partner of the grand alliance (GA), won 80 seats in the just-concluded assembly elections while Janata Dal(United) bagged 71 and Congress 27.
If speculations in Patna are to be believed, Tejashwi might also hold the post of deputy chief minister under chief minister Nitish Kumar. With his elevation, he will become the youngest politician in Bihar to hold the post.
For the young Tejashwi, the road to winning Raghopur was certainly not easy as he became a target for his rivals’ barbs on several occasions. His goof-up in filing election affidavits - where his elder brother, Tej Pratap, became his younger brother - or being a Class 9 dropout, Tejashwi was targeted by anyone who had a bone to pick with his father.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also referred to the goof-up and attacked the RJD chief for promoting his son at the cost of others. Tejashwi himself was quite vocal in criticising PM Modi saying that “Modi has disrespected the PM’s post” by using offensive language.
In his electoral debut Tejashwi, however, defeated sitting MLA of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Satish Kumar with a margin of over 22,000 votes. This victory may be seen as Tejashwi’s redemption of the defeat that his mother, Rabri Devi, suffered in the last assembly elections at the hands of Kumar, who was then in the JD(U).
It is well known how Lalu Prasad put in every effort to ensure a win for both his sons from their respective constituencies in a bid to ensure that his political clout remained intact. Lalu’s push for his sons’ victory was also seen as an attempt to restore his own clout among the Yadavs, which had waned following his disqualification to contest elections and the drubbing of his daughter Misa Bharti and his wife Rabri Devi in the Lok Sabha polls.
A tech-savvy politician, Tejashwi is quite active on social media, using the platform to reach out to his followers and well-wishers and to attack his rivals. He has conducted several online and offline campaigns under the RJD Youth wing and is said to have campaigned extensively for his family in the last assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
He was also listed as one of the 10 youngsters under 40 by Verdict, an independent policy, research and analysis think-tank based in Boston, US, which said that Tejashwi may be a game changer in the upcoming Bihar elections.
As a former cricketer, he played for Jharkhand during a Ranji Trophy tournament. He was also selected in Delhi under-19 team. He was bought by the IPL team of Delhi Daredevils in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, but did not play any match. His Wikipedia page lists him as an ‘all-round’ cricketer’.
Tejashwi had termed his IPL experience as ‘fun and exciting’ when he was selected for the first time. Will his experience be the same as a newbie in Bihar politics? Only time will tell.