PATNA: With a majority of exit polls predicting a big victory for the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav as the next Chief Minister of Bihar, it appears that the latter has clearly emerged from the formidable shadow of his father and former chief minister Lalu Yadav – a stalwart in Bihar politics for several decades.
With the ailing patriarch of Bihar’s famous Yadav clan lodged in the Ranchi jail, far away from the scene of political action in Bihar, the RJD’s fate clearly depended on his political heir and once a budding cricketer Tejashwi Yadav.
It was largely perceived to be Lalu Prasad’s decision not to give too much weightage to smaller parties such as the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), which eventually walked out of the RJD-led Grand Alliance, it was actually Tejashwi Yadav who convinced his father not to trust those who had betrayed him.
Since the day assembly elections were announced in Bihar, the onus was on Tejashwi to connect with the voters, convince them that he will usher the state into a new era of development, keep the ‘’MY’’ formula devised by his veteran father intact and win new and the first time voters in this election.
Following the 1989 Bhagalpur riots and the rise of Lalu Prasad in 1990, the state’s 17 per cent Muslim votes had largely shifted to Lalu, adding to the dominant Yadav votes (about 14 per cent). Tejashwi did not entirely depend on this electoral mathematics, especially with the BJP seeking to win over OBCs and EBCs on a common, larger Hindu platform.
Tejashwi’s hard work, which is evident from the fact that he addressed as many as 247 public meetings on his own and held four roadshows, seems to have paid off with major exit polls on Saturday (November 7, 2020) predicting a clear advantage for the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ – a sign of the resurgence of RJD, which once ruled Bihar.
Interestingly, while the majority of exit polls predicted the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ wining between 120-130 seats, they estimated NDA to roughly win between 104-110 seats. Though, no alliance or party appeared to be getting a majority on its own, leading to a possibility of a hung assembly.
Chirag Paswan’s LJP is expected to win between 4-8 seats and likely to emerge as a kingmaker if no party wins a majority in Bihar. Several exit polls had predicted a close finish, with the anti-incumbency factor weighing heavily on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is looking for a fourth successive term in the chair.
As the projections show RJD gaining the maximum number of seats in the state, the Bihar exit polls also reflect upon the emergence of a new poster boy in Bihar politics. These elections may establish Tejashwi as a pivot in Bihar politics and he may also go on to become the next chief minister.
The Times Now-CVoter Exit Poll for the Bihar projected Tejashwi Yadav’s Grand Alliance winning nearly 120 seats as compared to Nitish Kumar-led NDA’s 116 seats. Today’s Chanakya also predicted a landslide win for the ”Mahagathbandhan” with 180+ seats. Meanwhile, the prediction made by India Today-Axis My India says that 44% of people preferred Tejashwi Yadav as the next chief minister of Bihar. Incumbent Nitish Kumar got thumbs up from 35% of respondents whereas Chirag Paswan was preferred by just seven per cent. The Zee Maha Exit Poll predicted 104-128 seats for NDA; RJD getting 108-131, LJP winning 5-8 and Others getting 3-6 seats,
All this proves that Tejashwi Yadav could have further milked his youth image by gaining sympathy on the basis of his jailed father Lalu Yadav. The Yadav scion also cleverly kept his family members, including his father, and their images away from the election campaigning – the strategy that benefitted RJD.
It appears that the RJD also made the right choices in forming the alliance by staying away from duped parties like HAM, VIP, RLSP, who were not reliable. With the Bihar exit poll results swaying in favour of RJD, one of the most important factors that may have worked for Tejashwi Yadav could be strong loyal Muslim-Yadav caste equation and their backing for the party.
Also, bringing in the CPI (ML), a party with substantial committed and transferable votes, may have affected the voting for the better. Further, the Mahagathbandhan seemed to be going strong with no infighting or confusion within the alliance, unlike the tussle between BJP-JD(U) and LJP.
The promise of jobs in the face of anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar could have further improved RJD’s chances in Bihar polls. Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad`s son Tejashwi Yadav clearly managed to outshine most others.
Making his electoral debut in 2015 from Raghopur (Vaishali district), Tejashwi, a former cricketer, has been active in politics only for seven years. In this election, with the burden of the RJD’s revival on Tejashwi’s shoulders, the LJP’s decision to walk out of NDA, could have also benefitted his party in a three-way fight in Bihar.
Born on November 10, 1989, Tejashwi is the youngest of two sons of Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi, both former chief ministers of the state. A cricket enthusiast, Tejashwi was also a part of the Delhi Daredevils IPL team for four years between 2008-2012. He, however, did not get to play any match.
He made his political debut in the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections and contested from the Raghopur seat. He was sworn in as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s deputy after the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance emerged victorious in the election. However, his stint as Bihar Deputy CM was short-lived as Nitish ended the alliance with RJD to form a government with the BJP.
Tejashwi was also booked in the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp.) case. He has served as the Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly since July 2017. As the political successor of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Tejashwi will surely be credited for reviving the fortunes of the party founded by his father by leading it to victory in this election.
Tejashwi, who will turn 31 on November 9 this year, a day before the counting of votes, would also be the youngest chief minister in India if the alliance pulls off a victory in the election.