Thursday, 11 August, 2022
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Tejashwi Yadav, forever middle-order batsman, is forced to open for RJD in Lalu’s absence

With RJD facing an existential crisis, 29-year-old Tejashwi Yadav battles BJP, uncle Nitish Kumar and his own family members.

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As an aspiring cricketer, Tejashwi Yadav was a middle-order batsman. This meant that by the time he came in to bat, the openers had staved off the early assault from the opposition team and all possibilities of damage from the new ball. On most occasions, the openers had built the base, and Tejashwi Yadav, in his role, would be expected to add to the scoreboard. This was Tejashwi’s life, until a sudden turn of events forced him into Bihar’s politics.

Tejashwi Yadav never aspired to be a politician. He dropped out of school (DPS, R.K. Puram) to be a professional cricketer – like his role model Sachin Tendulkar. Little did Tejashwi know then that his act of quitting studies would later be used to ridicule him. But it was his father Lalu Prasad’s conviction and five-year sentencing in the fodder scam case in 2013 – making the former Bihar chief minister ineligible to contest elections for 11 years – that made Tejashwi Yadav give up his cricketing hopes to be the opening batsman for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Tejashwi’s good start

Tejashwi Yadav’s entry in politics happened at an opportune moment. Janata Dal United — JD(U) — chief Nitish Kumar had parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which allowed Tejashwi-led RJD to forge an alliance with the friend-turned-foe for the 2015 Bihar assembly election.

This alliance swept the elections and the RJD, with 81 seats, emerged as the single-largest party in the Bihar assembly. Tejashwi Yadav won from Raghopur with a huge margin. As promised, Lalu Prasad agreed to the proposition that Nitish Kumar will be the chief minister, with Tejashwi Yadav becoming his deputy. So, Tejashwi Yadav, at the age of 26, became the youngest politician in India to hold the position.

Also read: Tejashwi Yadav finally surfaces in Patna but still can’t make it to Bihar assembly

But the beginning of the end to the dream run came soon. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an FIR in the alleged IRCTC scam; the agency claimed it took place in 2006 when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister. Tejashwi Yadav, who was 17 then, was also named as an accused. This prompted Nitish Kumar to break the alliance – and join hands with the BJP. Meanwhile, judgments in other fodder scam cases came in and Lalu, who had been out on bail, was back in prison. In his absence, Tejashwi Yadav once again had to run the show for the RJD.

Under his stewardship, the RJD forged a new alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. This secular alliance failed miserably and the RJD drew a blank, while its partner Congress managed to win one seat. The remaining 39 seats were won by the BJP-JDU-LJP alliance. This was unexpected. No opinion or exit poll had predicted zero seats for the RJD. The party went into a shock and all organisational activities came to a grinding halt.

Is it Tejashwi’s failure?

The problem with the RJD is not that Tejashwi Yadav hasn’t led the charge against the BJP-JD(U). The problem is that the RJD is facing an existential crisis in the absence of its patriarch Lalu Prasad. And this crisis is a result of these three factors.

Emergence of the BJP: The BJP has had its eyes set on the RJD’s vote bank – the Yadavs and the ‘most backwards’. The BJP has always wanted to rule Bihar without a regional ally’s help – something that it has managed to do in nearly all other north Indian states. This time around, the BJP is planning to go the whole nine yards. In the run-up to the next assembly election, it has appointed a Yadav leader, Nityanand Rai, as junior minister at the Centre. Party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav is in charge of Bihar and leading from the front. In another move, a ‘most backward caste’ leader from Uttar Pradesh, Fagu Chauhan, has been appointed as the governor of the state. These steps are aimed at eating into the RJD’s voter base.

Also read: Tejashwi sparks no joy among Bihar’s Yadavs. The era of Lalu is over

JD(U) eyeing Muslim voters: In the 2015 election, the Muslim community in Bihar voted for the secular alliance of the RJD and the JD(U). The JD(U) believes it may have a chance at winning the community’s support if it went solo (with some small partners) in the next election. To broaden its vote base, the JD(U) has been trying to woo the Muslims, who have traditionally voted for the RJD or its partners. Just after the Lok Sabha election results were declared, the Bihar government had issued an order to collect data regarding the activities of RSS leaders. Nitish Kumar’s party will argue that only the JD(U) has the potential to stop the BJP in Bihar. This does not augur well for the RJD, as Muslims were, and perhaps still are, its core vote bank.

The family conundrum: The third and the most nagging problem for Tejashwi Yadav is his own family. At a time when the RJD needs to put up a united front, his brother Tej Pratap Yadav has been creating nuisance and even supported rival candidate during the Lok Sabha election. His sister Misa Bharti is also creating problems for him. His mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi is trying to take everyone along but this strategy is not working. Lalu Yadav has nominated Tejashwi Yadav as his political heir, but this is not agreeable to other family members.

The moot question is: will Tejashwi Yadav be able to ward off attacks from so many quarters? It’s difficult to say at this point. But this is how the steel is tempered. Tejashwi Yadav has little more than a year to prove his mettle but the biggest problem is that his mentor and father Lalu Prasad will not be around most of the time to guide him.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

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  1. Things will change for sure.Definitely Tejaswi will be triumphant.He has got the calibre.As regards corruption these are concocted.Which politician is not corrupt. Most of them are of criminal background.

  2. Tejasvi is a good leader, he has capability to keep his vote bank intact. Of course, he is no comparison with Lalu. Across the country, socialist political parties are struggling these days due to their ideology and their resource crunch in terms of power, technology, money, pan india presence. BJP, on other hand, is enjoying its best time. Lalu’s people also failed to make voters understand that if Lalu is culprit in fodder scam then Jagarnath Mishra is bigger culprit and bureaucrats concerns are also responsible. No body in media Or judiciary is picking up this point due to their own hidden agenda. And RJD is also not taking this issue forward. Tejasvi also needs consitency

  3. Even Lalu ji has lost his relevance and credibility. Good that he is not around. At least, Lalu ji and authors like Mandal ji have the consolation that had Lalu ji been there there would have been landslide victory for RJD. Fact remains, RJD’s vote share has been reducing election after election, even when Lalu ji was around. Mulayam Singh ji has been very much around – what is happening to SP in UP?
    In fact, RJD has lost its agenda and ideology. And there is nothing like Lalu ji in Tejashwi – who took birth in politics, became Dy CM and presumed that politics is all about mathematics and mathematics only. He did not show even the courage and humility to accept and respect the mandate and be around electorates.
    I have observed Lalu ji’s political journey a bit closely from the days he was becoming a student leader ….. He definitely had a fire in him – a fire which is there in any poor man’s eye, fire to make the system work for the poor and down trodden. This fire made JP love him more than anyone else during Bihar agitation. And this fire remained with him till the first term as Chief Minister of Bihar. He really did an anti Brahmin social engineering quite successfully and made the govt machinery work for the last line of the people in Bihar. But he not only lost the track fully and completely but also became involved in lot of unworthy things. The support of people made him arrogant too and only the sycophants, corrupts and criminals surrounded him. Tejashwi must have seen his father’s later avatar only and must have come to join to enjoy the game.
    In fact, there is no National relevance left of either Lalu ji or RJD, as they don’t have any agenda for the country except for the mathematical agenda to add up and to rule by any means. Those days have just gone for the country.
    It is, however, possible to some extent to remain relevant in Bihar but with a rider – Tejashwi has to go back and ensure blessings of Nitish ji. Yes, only Nitish ji is in a position to rescue Tejashwi and RJD. If Nitish ji honestly approaches electorates with RJD behind him, the people may still think of forgetting and give them yet another chance, for Bihar would continue to love Nitish ji as Chief Minister …. And this may be suitable for Nitish ji too. The RJD and JD (U) with it’s expert Vice President may wish to ponder over further!

  4. It is baffling to a man having experience of handling the income tax cases of this family of swindlers to see that a convicted criminal and his family, beneficiaries of unjust enrichment, should get so much publicity.

  5. The question shouldn’t be will he succeed in the soap opera like plot, more about can he be a leader ? Does he understand what it takes to run government? Does he have the intellect needed of a 21sr century CM or even a minister? Even right wing crazies in sadhu garb has a degree. The reporter should be a soap opera critic.

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