The 30-year-old chief ministerial face of the Grand Alliance, Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav, never played a Test match or a T-20 for India, but in the Bihar elections, he has taken the crease and is in no tearing hurry to return to the pavilion.
He was a straggler, starting late, almost two months after the BJP launched the RJD campaign. But these days he hits the campaign trail at the crack of dawn and by the time CM Nitish Kumar has started addressing his first rally, Tejashwi has wound up at least three. Not to omit the string of interviews he gives to TV reporters in the ‘sojourns’.
Tejaswhi, who had a daily staple of six rallies, is now peaking with at least 16 gatherings daily; on Saturday, he addressed 19, including two in the state capital. So, it is almost 14 takeoffs and 14 landings daily by chopper. RJD has just one helicopter at its disposal, as against 30 at the beck and call of the ruling dispensation.
The BJP has also kept a special aircraft parked at Patna airport for its president J P Nadda who leaves for New Delhi every second day.
Tejaswhi has become the centrepiece of the election with both Prime Minister and the chief minister singling him out in their speeches. Whether PM Modi dubs him Jungle Ka Yuvraj or the Chief Minister describes him as "school dropout son of a jailbird, it is the RJD leader who is getting the traction.
He has already set the agenda by pitching one million government jobs. The BJP followed it up with its pledge of 19 lakh jobs, but analysts say it is Tejashwi’s pledge which is resonating with the crowds; he has also singlehandedly steered the grand alliance in the absence of his father Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Voting in 94 of the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar will be held on November 3 during the second phase. Among the notable candidates are Tejashwi Yadav who is again contesting from Raghopur and his brother Tej Pratap – from Hassanpur in Samastipur district.
The other prominent faces are RJD leaders Alok Kumar Mehta from Ujiyarpur and Shailesh Kumar from Bihpur, former parliamentarian Anand Mohan's son Chetan Anand from Sheohar, former parliamentarian Rama Singh's wife Beena Singh from Mahnar, and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha's son Luv from Bankipur.
The RJD has fielded 56 candidates in the second phase; it is in direct contest with the BJP on 27 seats and with the ally-turned-foe JD-U on 25 seats. The BJP is contesting 46 seats and the JD-U 43. The Congress is contesting 24.
In the 2015 elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad had bagged 33 of these seats, the JD-U 30 and the Congress seven, whereas the NDA had won only 22.
However, a lot of water has since flown down the river. New political permutations and combinations have come into play.
Five years ago, Nitish Kumar's JD-U fought the election in alliance with the RJD and the Congress, whereas the NDA had Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) in its camp.
This time, the JD-U has moved to the NDA camp, the LJP is fighting its own battle and the RLSP is a part of the Grand Democratic Secular Front.