Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav Image Credit: PTI

I remember chatting with Lalu Prasad Yadav post a television interview for my show. Lalu was relaxed, wearing his trademark Pringle sweater, soaking in the winter sun in his Lutyens’ bungalow garden when he spotted a young Tejashwi Yadav trying to sneak out.

Lalu immediately hollered: “Eh Tejashwi babu kahan jaye ba. Bas betwa aap cricket wa kehla. Baap hain na kaam karan koh (where are you going Tejashwi? You just play cricket, your father is there to do the work).” An unfazed Tejashwi, with a very fancy mushroom-cut hairstyle, knew he was his father’s favourite child. He rushed in, gave Lalu a hug, the father immediately melted and tried to cover up his pride in his son. Tejashwi Yadav was obsessed with cricket and remained the 12th man of an IPL team for an entire season. Lalu then sardonically observed: “Abhi yeh paani pila rahein hain, kabhi balley sei khele gei (he is currently ferrying water then he will get a chance to play with the bat).”

Lalu Yadav’s favourite son and his legatee Tejashwi today has made his father proud with his performance at the hustings in the Bihar elections. Lalu is currently in jail, but Tejashwi, who Lalu used to point out looks the spitting image of his wife Rabri Devi, makes sure to consult his father on his political gambits. Tejashwi, a failed cricketer, who stopped studying after class nine in Delhi Public School, was completely written off in the big battle for Bihar. His track record till now was text book failure. The son of a powerful leader, who got everything on a silver platter, neither valued his legacy nor the job of being deputy chief minister Bihar, which was handed to him like a child is given a fancy toy.

Tejashwi failed to make a mark and would frequently play hooky from work, escaping to spend time in Delhi with his school friends. Perhaps, the fractious family fights put him off, but Lalu seemed to despair of him, telling me once that if you don’t work you don’t value anything. He stopped before he named Tejashwi and his worry, typical of most fathers, was that the son was not amounting to much. Lalu being jailed and being extremely unwell changed Tejashwi. The prodigal had a lot to prove and suddenly the man who would run away from boring official meetings was addressing 12 election rallies a day, besting his own father’s record. Tejashwi knew that the Bihar election was supposed to be a walkover and he was to be a pushover for the ascendant BJP.

Tejashwi changed the script and revealed an extremely shrewd political brain. He took the RJD from a party of Mandal social justice to a party seeking employment for the young Bihari. The job crisis is endemic in Bihar and he stuck a powerful chord so much so that the BJP had to play catch up. Tejashwi clearly is a chip off the old block. He took on both Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi without turning a hair. Tejashwi remained on message despite, Modi tempting him with various issues. Tejashwi did not even bite with Kumar making personal attacks on the Yadav family.

Read more from Swati Chaturvedi

Tejashwi from the nowhere man has become a mass leader in Bihar. What a chequered graph it has been. He stepped up when he saw his mother worrying and his father in jail. Currently Tejashwi is not seeking a vacation and is dodging marriage proposals. Tejashwi told his mother: “I am only 31, let me focus on politics.” Lalu still in jail can relax - his party is in the safe hands of his “bitua” (son).

Swati Chaturvedi, Special to Gulf News-1592296808900