SEEMA MUSTAFA | 5 AUGUST, 2018
RJD leader in full command
The moment at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar belonged to Bihar’s Tejaswi Yadav. 12 political parties together amidst a massive rally against the atrocities on women, and more specifically the horrific rape and torture of young girls by the top guns of a home run to supposedly given them shelter and while Congress president Rahul Gandhi took the lead, the young Yadav was the cynosure of all eyes.
In a smart trendy hair cut, the young man spoke fluently, clearly, mincing no words as he attacked “chacha” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for sheltering the perpetrators and the crime. A natural politician who at the same time was visibly deferential to the seniors on the dias, not pushing himself forward, until he came on to the podium where the quiet personality was transformed into a confident, almost raging (although that is not the word for him really) politician.
Rahul Gandhi, in his avataar as the linchpin of opposition unity, gave the young Bihar leader more than ample space, with the two providing together providing a fresh face and new impetus to the protest rally in the heart of the national capital.
This RJD leader is rather popular in Bihar,cutting across caste in this normally caste conscious state. Not so long ago when Nitish Kumar was still with the Congress and RJD, Tejaswi Yadav had been the bridge between his father Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar, easing ego-centric tensions and bringing a certain maturity into his job in the government. Bureaucrats and politicians spoke well of him, as he worked to ensure the unity that brought the coalition into power in the state sweeping the BJP aside.
It is well known that Lalu Yadav is the only major regional leader now who has had absolutely no truck with the BJP, over or under the covers. Karnataka leader of the Janata Dal-Secular HD Deve Gowda, Janata Dal-U’s Nitish Kumar and even Sharad Yadav, Telugu Desam’s Chandrababu Naidu, Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj party chief Mayawati have all erred on the side of power, except Lalu Yadav who has been steadfast in his strong and direct criticism of the BJP.
Tejaswi Yadav, although it is early days yet, seems to be of similar determined stock. In that some behind the scene efforts to make him mend fences with Nitish Kumar who was trying to reach out to the opposition, were firmly rejected by him. And it is clear now that the RJD will lead the opposition alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, with the Congress and some of the smaller local parties in alliance. Like Akhilesh Yadav, the Bihar leader has decided to pursue the old socialist politics with a modern edge to it.
Unlike his father who was more rustic, more outgoing and very charismatic, Tejaswi Yadav makes do with his sincerity and youth appeal. Given the fact that Lalu Yadavs baggage has not attached itself to him, this gives him a headstart as was evident in his speech at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar protest venue yesterday. In fact it was the younger people on stage who took over, drawing without intending to, a sharp comparison between the rather desultory speeches of the older leaders on the platform and their passionate, and seemingly more honest, assurances and promises.
Tejaswi Yadav is also very visible on Twitter, endorsing the other young leaders he is in touch with like Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. He is quick off the mark, hitting out at the BJP, PM Modi, local leaders and others in the ruling party on a daily basis. He knows his mind, is clear of where he is going ---at the moment towards the chief ministership of Bihar---and determined to win the Lok Sabha polls in alliances. There is no ‘we are on top’ ego visible so far in the talks that are going on, and as Yadav has said several times, his party believes in coalitions.
Interestingly, there is a clear ideology that determines his politics. And as Tejaswi Yadav himself has articulated on different occasions this for him is to save India and the Constitution of India. “We will not allow Godse and Gowalker to enter out Constitution,” he says. His attack on PM Modi is also within the democratic space where he points out that the BJP is also heading a 40 party coalition, but only the Prime Minister is visible. As a result of this, he says, Shiv Sena has almost walked out, Chandrababu Naidu has left, Akali Dal is upset, hitting a regional nerve directly.
He is clear that there can be prosperity only when there is peace, and the hate crime, and violence is stopped. His appeal is to the youth, where he is trying hard to cut across castes and make it clear he represents the all and not the few.
Since time is on his side he is not a rush, and as he says, the first priority is for everyone to come together to save India. It is largely because the younger politicians are determining the alliances, that the talks that often fall into a rut over a couple of seats, appear to be moving smoothly even in normally contentious Uttar Pradesh where an agreement is in sight. As it is Bihar. The two states hold 120 Lok Sabha seats.