Meet Lalu’s True Heir: It’s Not His Sons But Daughter Misa

Misa Bharti is seen as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s true heir, but she has to manage her brothers’ ambitions.

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Politics
5 min read
Misa Bharti (centre) celebrating the RJD’s victory in the Bihar elections with her brothers, Tej Pratap Yadav (left) and Tejaswi Yadav (right). (Photo Courtesy: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)

With just days to go for the formation of Nitish Kumar’s Council of Ministers in Bihar, all eyes are on RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. The big question – which of his sons and daughters will rise to the A-list.

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi with their seven daughters and two sons at the youngest daughter Raj Laxmi’s engagement ceremony in February 2015. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi with their seven daughters and two sons at the youngest daughter Raj Laxmi’s engagement ceremony in February 2015. (Photo: The Quint)

Lalu’s Catch-22

Sources within the RJD have told The Quint that both Tej Pratap Yadav and his younger brother Tejaswi Yadav are eyeing a seat in the Bihar council of ministers. They say Lalu Prasad Yadav cannot afford to alienate one at the cost of the other, and that both are likely to be appointed ministers or ministers of state with independent charge.

But sources close to the family say Misa Bharti, the eldest daughter and the most seasoned of all her siblings, is being seen as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s eventual political heir.

For now, however, it is unlikely that Lalu will bypass his sons and give Misa a government position, given that she didn’t fight the election. From the looks of it, she will have to wait in the stands for a larger role in the party.

Misa, the Most Seasoned Sibling

Misa Bharti is considered to be extremely close to father Lalu Prasad Yadav. Seen here at their 10 Circular Road residence in Patna after the Bihar election results. (Misa Bharti’s Facebook page.)
Misa Bharti is considered to be extremely close to father Lalu Prasad Yadav. Seen here at their 10 Circular Road residence in Patna after the Bihar election results. (Misa Bharti’s Facebook page.)

In the just-concluded Bihar elections, both Lalu’s sons, Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav made stunning debuts. Tejaswi wrested back the family bastion of Raghopur by a margin of 22,733 votes while elder brother Tej Pratap won from Mahua by a margin of 28,155 votes.

Advisors close to the family tell The Quint that both first-time MLAs are political greenhorns compared to Lalu’s eldest daughter. After having lost in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Misa was not given a ticket this time. But in 2015, she has been the backbone and master strategist behind the political family’s fight for survival. While Tej Pratap is believed to be close to mother Rabri, and Tejaswi close to father Lalu, it is Misa who has stood behind the family during their most trying times.

In a candid conversation with The Quint, Misa said she is willing to take on the party mantle, if she is asked.

I have done my MBBS, but politics runs in my blood. I am the daughter of a mass leader. In 2014, I lost to the Modi wave, but if the party makes me an offer now, why would I say no? I came into politics to take responsibility and not to make promises alone.
Misa Bharti, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter

A doctor by profession, Misa is an avid reader, a movie buff and a great cook. She maintains a lush kitchen garden at the 10 Circular Road residence in Patna. A mother of two daughters, Durga, 12 and Gauri, 7, Misa married Shailesh Kumar, a Delhi-based businessman in 1999 without ever meeting him. She said she implicity trusts her father’s decision.

Yes! That is how it happened. I blindly trusted my parents’ choice, I only saw Shailesh’s photograph before marrying him. The first time I met him was at my wedding day on stage. Shailesh and his family have been very supportive, I never had to choose between bringing up my kids and politics. I divide my time between Delhi and Patna. When I am in Patna, I FaceTime with both the girls all the time.
Misa Bharti


Misa Bharti with mother Rabri Devi and 7-year-old daughter, Gauri at the Chhat Puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)
Misa Bharti with mother Rabri Devi and 7-year-old daughter, Gauri at the Chhat Puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)

Sibling Rivalry?

This election, Misa led over 40 campaigns. While she admits that the focus was on Tejaswi and Tej Pratap’s constituencies, she also canvassed at Congress and JD(U) strongholds. A senior political advisor to the Yadav family says that given the turnout of women voters and Misa’s mass appeal as a woman leader, she must be given a bigger role in the party and the government.

But after the stellar mandate, sources within the RJD have told The Quint that tension is building up between the brothers, and if either is denied a position or if they are bypassed for Misa, it will lead to bad blood. For her part, Misa says there is no room for sibling rivalry.

I am very close to my brothers. Being the eldest of all my siblings, I have practically brought them up because my parents were always very busy.
Misa Bharti says she practically brought up her brothers, Tejaswi and Tej Pratap because her parents were always busy. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)
Misa Bharti says she practically brought up her brothers, Tejaswi and Tej Pratap because her parents were always busy. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)

A close friend of the family says that Lalu is intrinsically patriarchal and that is partly why he promoted his sons heavily in the 2015 election. While political observers concur with that view, they also say that Lalu is an astute politician and if he were to eye a larger role for himself in national politics, he is likely to pass on the mantle to Misa.

Lalu, this source says, will particularly not want to repeat the mistakes he made with his brothers-in-law Sadhu Yadav and Subhah Yadav, who became laws unto themselves. It is believed he will promote Misa when the time is right.

Misa and mother Rabri Devi pose for a selfie during Chhat puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)
Misa and mother Rabri Devi pose for a selfie during Chhat puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: Misa Bharti’s Facebook page)

What the Alliance Thinks

Misa Bharti is also highly regarded by the RJD’s allies. Voices within the JD(U), for instance, give Misa the thumbs-up.

She has been very articulate in all her campaigns, she is approachable, sensible and politically expedient. Her husband has also stood behind her in the campaign.
KC Tyagi, JD(U) to The Quint
 Lalu with Misa and granddaughter Gauri at his courtyard in Patna. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Lalu with Misa and granddaughter Gauri at his courtyard in Patna. (Photo: The Quint)

Sources within the JD(U) also say that if Lalu Prasad Yadav is to pursue his national ambitions, Misa should be the de facto political heir. Speaking of the alliance, Misa herself strikes all the right notes.

Nobody in the Mahagathbandhan is power hungry. There are no closed-door discussions, it is democratic and even if the RJD had won all 101 seats, Nitish Kumar would still be the CM.

Shailesh Kumar Bats for Wife Misa

Misa married husband Shailesh in 1999 without ever meeting him. Seen here, Misa with husband Shailesh and daughters, Durga, 12 and Gauri, 7 at the Chhat puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: The Quint)
Misa married husband Shailesh in 1999 without ever meeting him. Seen here, Misa with husband Shailesh and daughters, Durga, 12 and Gauri, 7 at the Chhat puja celebrations in Patna. (Photo: The Quint)

It is not just Misa, her husband Shailesh Kumar too played a huge role in the RJD campaign. Shailesh, an engineer, hired ten youths from engineering and management backgrounds to manage social media and technology for the party’s campaign. Shailesh set up an IT and Tech room at Lalu’s Patna residence during the course of the election.

Misa and Shailesh are an educated couple who work like a well-oiled machine. They have played a key role in altering the perception that the RJD is a rural party of buffoons. Shailesh has silently worked behind the scenes. He managed Lalu’s Twitter account and also helped both the brothers in the campaign. They are a force to watch out for.
A close aide of the family

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