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Tejashwi Yadav: Failed Cricketer, Eligible Bachelor & Lalu’s Heir

With this “no ordinary” victory in Bihar bypolls Tejashwi Yadav also signalled his arrival in the big picture.

Updated
Politics
5 min read
Bihar Deputy CM and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav.
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(This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the Samajwadi Party’s win in Uttar Pradesh bypolls with the support of Bahujan Samaj Party. It was first published on 15 July 2017.)

When Tejashwi Yadav – Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister – shared a WhatsApp number for people to send photos of potholes, so that they can be repaired, what he got was a whopping 44,000 marriage proposals. In a lighter vein, he said, “Thank God I am single, otherwise such messages would have landed me in deep trouble.”

From a damp stint in cricket to a rapid rise in politics, the life trajectory of Tejashwi – the youngest of Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi’s nine children – has been an interesting one. In 2015, he was appointed the Deputy CM under the Mahagathbandhan of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and the Congress, right after he won his maiden assembly elections.

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But in less than two years after his appointment as the deputy chief minister, there has been a whirlwind of change in Bihar politics. The Mahagatbandhan is now broken with Nitish Kumar ruling the state with BJP's support, and his father Lalu Yadav's finds himself behind the bars in connection with the Fodder Scam.

The first-time legislator Tejashwi Yadav, meanwhile, is said to have single-handedly led the party to a massive victory in Araria parliamentary seat and the Jehanabad assembly seats in the recently held bypolls in the state.

Only seven months earlier, the 27-year-old RJD leader found himself in a tough spot, facing allegations of corruption and calls for resignation from his post. The CBI had registered an FIR against him in connection with a “land for hotels” case.

“This is no ordinary victory. Those who were saying that ‘Laluji ab Khatam Ho gaye’ have been given a reply”, said Tejashwi after the victory in bypolls. With this “no ordinary” victory Tejashwi also signalled his arrival in the big picture.

Snowballing into the limelight only after the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, not much is known about the young leader. Here’s a brief sketch of the man considered to be Lalu’s heir apparent.

Snowballing into the limelight only after the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, not much is known about the young leader. Here’s a brief sketch of the man considered to be Lalu’s heir apparent.

Hard at work.
Hard at work.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/@tejashwiyadav)

A Stint With Delhi Daredevils

Yadav Junior’s interest in cricket was high right from his school days. But on the academic front, Tejashwi – who studied at the prestigious Delhi Public School, RK Puram – could not clear Class X.

Of his batting abilities at the age of 10, Surjeet Singh, his sports teacher, told Business Standard:

The poor bowlers did not have an answer. I remember how ball after ball kept crashing into the line of red-brick buildings that surrounded the ground. I was astounded.

Even so, Tejashwi couldn’t make his name as a big-ticket player in the game.

The highlights of Yadav Junior’s cricketing stint include a Ranji match in 2009 in which he represented Jharkhand. Later, he was part of the Delhi Daredevils franchise in the Indian Premier League from 2008 to 2012.

The Ranji match against Vidarbha was a forgettable one. Tejashwi scored a measly 1 and 19 and could not take a single wicket. As far as his stint with the Delhi Daredevils was concerned, he ended up spending all his four seasons off the pitch.

Tejashwi Yadav reliving his cricket days.
Tejashwi Yadav reliving his cricket days.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/@tejashwiyadav)
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MP Singh, who coached Tejashwi in the game when he was just 11, called him a “down-to-earth” and “well-behaved student of the game”. In November 2015, Singh told DNA:

Though he is the son of a high-profile politician like Lalu Prasad Yadav, I never got a complaint against him during all those years that he was training here

The Political Plunge

The year 2010 marked Tejashwi's entry into politics. It began with him campaigning for the RJD during the assembly elections. But the final political plunge came when the subsequent elections were held in 2015. The stakes were even higher this time with the BJP posing as a potent threat. But Tejashwi, as a politician, had also matured – playing a vital role in the party when Lalu was in jail, becoming – as this Business Standard article says – “indispensable to his father”, and also apparently helping forge the Mahagathbandhan.

Contesting from the Raghopur constituency, Tejashwi dealt a blow to the BJP’s Satish Kumar – the same leader who had defeated his mother Rabri Devi back in 2010.

And instead of his elder brother Tej Pratap, who became an MLA from Mahua constituency, it was Tejashwi who was given the charge of being the second-in-command of the state.

RJD supremo Lalu Yadav with his son Tejashwi Yadav. 
RJD supremo Lalu Yadav with his son Tejashwi Yadav. 
(Photo: PTI)
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The Social Media-Savvy Bachelor

Still in his formative years as a politician, Tejashwi has been hailed as a social media man – one who uses these platforms to establish a connect with the people and to improve work efficiency. While his WhatsApp initiative to fix potholes might have led to an unintended outcome, he has nevertheless helped his party keep up with the needs of an internet-dependent age.

Lalu’s active social media presence today (his 2,600+ tweets are an indication of that) may just have been a Tejashwi-effect.

Still a bachelor, the young leader prefers to have an ‘arranged marriage’.

But his mother Rabri Devi seems to have been very demanding in this regard, apparently wanting a girl who doesn’t spend time at shopping malls or movie theatres (though she played down her statement later, saying it was not meant literally).

While Tejashwi’s popularity may have risen steadily, and he may be integral to his father and his party, today his image stands tarnished. He may have given a witty response to the corruption allegations against him, rhetorically asking how could he be involved in any wrongdoing at a time when he didn’t even have a “mooch” (the corruption case dates back to 2004 when he was just 15). But the young leader has to do more to placate Nitish, who has responded to the CBI action against the Yadavs by stressing on “zero tolerance against corruption”.

(With additional inputs from The Hindu, The Economic Times, Deccan Chronicle and PTI)

(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here's your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL atbol@thequint.com or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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