He was mocked as a failed cricketer and often called a ‘navsikhiya’ (newcomer) during the 2020 election campaign, taunted for 15 years as ‘jungleraj ka yuvraj’ (the prince of rule of lawlessness), called a matric fail (one who didn’t clear class 10), but Tejashwi Yadav, son of former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi established himself this year as a seasoned politician. Not just did he challenge veteran Nitish Kumar and the mighty BJP but also single-handedly made the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD), the single-largest party in the politically sensitive state.
Tejashwi, who made his debut in politics in 2015 assembly polls, was seen under the shadow of his father as he travelled along with him in several Mahagathabandhan (Grand Alliance) rallies and also addressed public meetings on his own, especially in his family bastion of Raghopur, which was once represented by Lalu and his mother Rabri Devi.
During his political campaigning in Raghopur assembly constituency in 2015, Tejashwi used to speak to voters saying ‘Ham hain Tejashwi, Lalu ji ke chotka beta’ (I am Tejashwi, the younger son of Lalu) to gel with the core voters of his family, which resulted in a thumping victory, paving the way for him to be Deputy Chief Minister.
However, things changed for him soon as his family was embroiled in several cases of benami assets that was highlighted by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, making the central agencies swing into action. Later, his father was jailed in connection with several cases of the fodder scam.
By mid-2017, the JD-U, one of the core members of the Grand Alliance, besides the Congress and the RJD, ditched the alliance and forged an alliance with the NDA to form the government.
Despite the setback, Tejashwi showed maturity and took on the responsibility of his party and decided to fight back.
And in 2020, he single handedly addressed more over 247 rallies and four road shows in absence of his father.
Speaking to IANS, RJD’s Mrityunjay Tiwari said, “Those who raised questions over the talent of Tejashwi have today accepted his prowess. People are accepting that he alone engaged with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several BJP Chief Ministers who campaigned in Bihar, despite facing such personal attacks on him.”
Tiwari said since the Grand Alliance could not come to power, people have high expectations from him now as they can see a ray of hope in him.
Pointing out at the campaign strategy of Tejashwi, the RJD leader said, “He kept his campaigning on the core issues for the people of Bihar. We were the first to promise employment to 10 lakh people after being voted to power. Tejashwi raised the issue of migrant workers, unemployment, better education and the need of industries in Bihar.”
Tiwari also opined that people are yet not ready to accept the defeat of the Grand Alliance in Bihar.
“He will keep on working for the people as a mature opposition in the state and fighting for people’s causes,” he said.
When asked if Tejashwi had emerged from the shadow of his father, Lalu, who is extremely popular in Bihar for his oratory skills, Tiwari said, “There is no doubt in this. He is not under his political shadow, he is Lalu’s heir who has brought the RJD to the status of single-largest party in the state once again.”
Tiwari said the RJD under Tejashwi managed to win 75 seats, one more than the mighty BJP, where most of the top leaders campaigned against him and called him ‘jungleraj ka yuvraj’.
“Machali ke bachho ko tairana nahi sikhaya jata, woh khud seekh jaata hai. During the entire campaigning he didn’t lose focus despite personal attacks by opponents. Like his father, he kept his focus to reach to his goal,” Tiwari said.
“However, we are not so lucky this time to form the government but in the coming years he will be definitely become a mature and seasoned politician,” he added.
The RJD contested the 2020 assembly polls in alliance with Congress and the Left parties. The Congress managed to win 19 seats while the Left parties won 16 seats. The Grand Alliance failed to reach the magic figure of 122 by 12 seats as it could manage only 110 seats.
In the 2015 assembly polls too, the RJD had won 80 seats and was the single-largest party.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])