By Promoting His Sons, Has Lalu Prasad Lost a Huge Opportunity?

Is Lalu Prasad making a mistake by promoting his children?

Published
Politics
3 min read
RJD chief Lalu Prasad with his wife Rabri Devi and his sons during the swearing-in ceremony at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

An unlikely alliance, a bitterly fought election, a comprehensive victory and finally, Nitish Kumar is the chief minister of Bihar again. However, his ally and senior Lalu Prasad’s RJD has won more seats. And by making his 26-year-old son Tejaswi Yadav the deputy CM, could Lalu lose some of the goodwill he has generated beyond his traditional vote-bank?

There are two ways of looking at the elevation of Lalu’s sons.

His supporters may well argue that the RJD has won more seats than the JD(U) and Tejaswi and his brother Tej Pratap (also sworn in as a minister) have won elections legitimately. Why shouldn’t Lalu and the RJD insist on their elevation? After all, as the dominant partner in the alliance they are well within their rights to do so.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad hug each other after Mahagathbandhan?s (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at RJD office in Patna. (Photo: PTI) 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad hug each other after Mahagathbandhan?s (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at RJD office in Patna. (Photo: PTI) 

Making the inexperienced first time MLA Tejaswi the second-in-command in Bihar may send out the wrong message, especially given the way the campaign was conducted, the nature of the alliance and the promises the new government has to fulfil.

Lalu for Nitish, Nitish for Lalu

On the ground, while reporting the campaign in Bihar, one thing was clear. The Mahagathbandhan had managed, in a very short time, to become a seamless unit. Nitish Kumar’s face dominated the posters and pamphlets, and in public at least Lalu vociferously backed his ‘chotta bhai’ for the chief ministerial berth.

Nitish Kumar’s face dominated the posters and pamphlets during the Bihar campaigns. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Nitish Kumar’s face dominated the posters and pamphlets during the Bihar campaigns. (Photo: The Quint)

Even on the ground, workers from the Congress, RJD and JD(U) were campaigning and working together regardless of which party’s candidate was contesting the seat. Even after their victory, Lalu Prasad seemed to want to maintain the dynamic established in the campaign. As late as November 18, highly placed sources within the RJD told The Quint that Lalu Prasad had warned his 80 MLAs that there would be zero tolerance for corruption.

He [Lalu Prasad] has just survived extinction and he will not jeopardise his political fortune for anything.
Senior RJD Source to The Quint

Right after their massive victory, it seemed as though Lalu was keen to keep the spirit and momentum of the campaign alive.

A Poor Strategy?

Senior journalist and author of a political biography of Lalu Prasad, Sankarshan Thakur told The Quint before the polls that Lalu’s main aim is to leave a political legacy for his children.

However, given Tejaswi’s inexperience, the post of deputy CM does have more than a whiff of nepotism. A less controversial appointment may have helped Lalu leave behind his ‘jungle raj’ label.

Lalu has also tried to position himself as a secular leader and has openly said that he wants to take the battle with the BJP outside Bihar. A senior Muslim leader like Abul Bari Siddiqui may well have been a better choice for the post.

As things stand now, the BJP can accuse Lalu of dynastic politics and nepotism.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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