Video Producers: Maaz Hasan, Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
"Some people are stuck on the stale pages of history, but we care for Bihar’s present and its future," Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) head Tejashwi Yadav expressed in 2020, as he reiterated his pre-poll promise of giving 10 lakh jobs in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly elections that year.
While the RJD emerged as the single largest party in the elections, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was led by the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), managed to form the government.
On Tuesday, 9 August, after the fall of the NDA government in Bihar, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar and Yadav met Governor Phagu Chauhan to stake a claim to form the government.
The next day, the 32-year-old, previously leading the primary opposition in the state, was administered the oath as the deputy CM for the second time in the state.
Sources even indicated that the RJD demanded that Yadav be made the home minister in the new cabinet and given the speaker's post.
From being known as veteran politician Lalu Prasad Yadav's youngest son to heralding the ruling coalition in Bihar, all in a span of 10 years, here is everything you need to know about Tejashwi Yadav.
Yadav's Path to Politics
Born on 9 November 1989 – four months before Lalu Prasad Yadav became the chief minister of Bihar for the first time – Tejashwi is the youngest of Lalu's nine children.
Even with his family background, joining politics was not on Yadav's radar until 2010.
After dropping out of school in Class 10, Tejashwi followed his passion for cricket. He went on to play for Delhi’s Under-19 cricket team in the Ranji trophy tournament. However, he dropped out of the sport a few months later, citing back-to-back injuries.
It was in 2010 that Yadav made his first political address in public, when he campaigned alongside his father for the state Assembly elections. In the polls, the RJD managed to secure just 22 seats in the 243-member Assembly.
Five years later, the young scion contested his first election from the Raghopur Assembly constituency at the age of 26.
The 2015 Election: Nitish Favoured Tejashwi as Deputy CM
Raghopur was an RJD stronghold, with Tejashwi's father and mother, Rabri Devi, representing the constituency till 2005. An unprecedented upset in the polls unseated Devi in 2010, when the BJP's Satish Kumar grabbed the Yadav bastion.
Five years later, touching the qualifying age for contesting elections, Tejashwi avenged his mother's loss in 2015.
The RJD-JD(U)-Congress Mahagathbandhan secured a clear victory in the polls, and Tejashwi was favoured over Tej Pratap Yadav, his elder brother, for the post of the Deputy Chief Minister under CM Nitish Kumar.
The first-time lawmaker, and now the youngest deputy CM of the state, marked a generational shift in the RJD.
Although Yadav had a few public appearances to his credit during this time, his social media presence resulted in him being touted as a 'tech savvy leader'.
However, after a brief period of two years, the coalition disintegrated, with Nitish Kumar declaring support for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and laying a claim to form the government.
Facing Crisis & Fronting the Opposition
A few months before the alliance fell apart, a case was registered against Tejashwi in connection with a ‘land for hotel’ scam. Rabri Devi and Lalu Prasad Yadav were also embroiled in the case.
Tejashwi lashed out at the BJP, accusing it of playing vendetta politics, while many called for his resignation. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against him.
Reacting to the controversy, Tejashwi then said,
“BJP was always scared of my father Lalu Yadav, but now I know that they are also nervous to see my growth as a political leader.”Tejashwi Yadav, as per Deccan Herald
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar continued to rule the state with the BJP's support.
By 2019, Tejashwi was serving as the de facto leader of the RJD, and went on to front the opposition campaign in the Lok Sabha elections, in which he failed to win even a single seat.
However, in less than a year, in a show of exponential political growth, the Yadav-led party posed a tough competition to the BJP-JD(U) alliance in the 2020 state polls, and emerged as the single-largest party in the election.
The alliance managed to win 110 seats out of 243, with the RJD grabbing 75 seats.
The Rise of a People's Leader
Yadav was hailed for orchestrating the resounding win, with reports recognising his move to let go of allies Jitan Ram Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha, and Mukesh Sahani, and bringing the Left parties on board in a calculated move.
His campaign was committed to the cause of unemployment, which tapped into the single most important sentiment in the youngest state – Bihar's median age was 20 in 2020 – of the country.
His vow to authorise an order for 10 lakh jobs in his very first act if elected as CM struck a chord with the people. "Four and a half lakh pending vacancies in the state," he pointed out to his critics and his rivals.
In a Facebook post leading up to the polls, Yadav posed 10 questions to Prime Minister Modi, and said,
"I want to ask the honourable Prime Minister the following questions related to the betterment and development of Bihar because according to NITI Aayog’s report, Bihar is the worst state when it comes to standards of education and health."
The politician even removed photos of his parents, embroiled in corruption scandals, from the campaign posters, and took to social media to expand his support.
His short, to-the-point, and simple poll campaigns, as COVID-19 ravaged the country, demonstrated a departure from Lalu's way of doing things.
"No rally exceeded beyond ten minutes, not just because he wanted to squeeze in as many stops as possible in a short span of time but also because he realises perhaps that today’s youth have a shorter attention span as compared to their parents," wrote journalist Arati J Jerath of his campaign.
As the opposition leader, Yadav didn't shy away from directing a relentless stream of censure at the Nitish Kumar's administration, and held on to his anger over unemployment.
Ahead of Tejashwi being sworn in as the deputy CM for the second time, Jagdanand Singh, who represents the old guard in the RJD, had stated:
"One can be a son of a leader. But acceptability comes from the people. Tejashwi has been accepted by the people as a tall leader."