Amid soaring popularity of RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav during the Bihar election, comparisons are being drawn between him and his father Lalu Yadav. Lalu was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977 when he was only 28. His son, who is 30 years old, could become the CM of the state if the Grand Alliance wrests power from the NDA.
Contesting on a Janata Party ticket from Chhapra, Lalu had polled over 4 lakh votes, about 86%, and reduced his rival and Congress MP Ramshekhar Prasad Singh to a listless opponent. The election was held after the then PM Indira Gandhi ended Emergency. Lalu was one of the 54 candidates nominated by Jayprakash Narayan in the undivided Bihar.
Unlike Tejashwi’s chopper-hopping schedule, Lalu had to bank on humble means to manage his campaigning. He reached Mahendrughat on the bank of Ganga in Patna to file his nomination. He was accompanied by a relative and a friend. This correspondent was the fourth passenger on a steamer that had ferried him. A ticket cost 25 paise then.
Lalu had hired an old jeep as it was less expensive. He would start his campaign by 10 am and call it a day after midnight. His association with JP had made Lalu a household name. He sought small donations from rich farmers to help him with his campaign. Some of them were the supporters of Lalu’s rival, the Congress MP.
After winning the election, he returned to his peon’s quarter at the Veterinary College in Patna. His elder brother too lived there. Next morning, Lalu visited Patna Law College to seek the blessings of the principal as he was still a student of LLB there. Lalu went to Delhi to take oath on a second-class sleeper ticket. Later, he went on to buy a Vespa scooter and a used jeep. In contrast, Tejashwi did not pursue studies after 9th standard. He is the darling of the Grand Alliance and addresses up to 18 rallies a day. He recently, sought votes for Suhasini Yadav, daughter of Sharad Yadav who had once defeated Lalu in the LS poll.
Unlike his father, Tejashwi avoids controversial subjects. He has been careful with his words for the BJP, particularly PM Modi. He admits before the public he is young and is ready to learn from others.