From Failed Batsman to Promising Dynast: Tejashwi Yadav is Bihar Election’s Most Valuable Player


From Failed Batsman to Promising Dynast: Tejashwi Yadav is Bihar Election’s Most Valuable Player

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Before this year’s Bihar elections, most Indians thought of Tejashwi Yadav as one of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s sons. Beyond the inherited importance he received from his father, Yadav was not considered a major player in the Indian political arena. However, now that the votes from the Bihar polls have been counted, and Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party has emerged as the single-largest part with 75  seats, that misconception is fading fast.

Much of RJD’s success in this election can be linked to Yadav’s personal reinvention during the campaign. He went from being just another dynast in Indian politics to a major player who makes a tangible difference on the ground. For evidence, just look to the massive crowds that thronged all of his rallies and speeches during the campaign.

It would seem that Yadav has always harboured a desire to perform before a teeming ocean of humanity. Except that in his younger years, his path to finding his way in front of an adoring audience went via the route of cricket, not politics. Now 31 years old, in his teens and early 20s, Yadav nursed aspirations of being a professional cricketer. He played at the state level and was even selected for the now-defunct Delhi Daredevils team for four seasons, though he never made the Playing XI.

By 2015, Yadav appeared to have left the dream of becoming a sportsman behind. He formally entered politics in the 2015 Bihar assembly election, winning his first-ever seat as an MLA. Though it took some growing pains, including friction with his elder siblings Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti, he eventually grew into his role as the leader of the RJD when his father was sent to jail in a corruption case. Five years after his first electoral victory, RJD’s performance in this election is a statement of intent from Yadav announcing his coming-of-age in politics.

Despite winning the most seats in the assembly, Yadav was tripped up by the pitfalls of coalition politics. An underwhelming performance by his allies in the Congress saw Yadav’s Mahaghatbandhan coalition narrowly lose out on forming the government to the BJP and JD(U)-led NDA coalition. But in politics, just like cricket, sometimes the Man of the Match is from the losing side. And in 2020, Tejashwi Yadav was the Bihar elections’ most valuable player.