Lalu Prasad Yadav

Lalu Prasad Yadav (born 11 June 1948) is an Indian politician from the state of Bihar.He is the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Chief Minister of Bihar, former Union Minister of Railways, and former Member of Parliament of the 15th Lok Sabha. He entered politics at Patna University as a student leader and was elected as then youngest member of the Lok Sabha in 1977 as a Janata Party candidate at the age of 29. He became the chief minister of Bihar in 1990. From 1997 to 2005 his wife Rabri Devi ruled as the Chief Minister of the state. His party came to power in 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election in partnership with Nitish Kumar of JD(U), but Nitish Kumar dumped Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party from power in July 2017.

 

Early and personal life

 

Lalu, second of his parents’ six sons, was born in Phulwaria in Bihar to Kundan Ray and Marachhiya Devi, and attended a local middle school before moving to Patna with his elder brother. After completing Bachelor of Laws and a Ph.D. in Political Science from B. N. College of Patna University, he worked as clerk in Bihar Veterinary College at Patna where his elder brother was also a peon. He turned down Patna University’s Honorary Doctorate in 2004.

Yadav married Rabri Devi on 1 June 1973, in an arranged marriage, and they went on to have two sons and seven daughters.

 

Political career

1970–1990: Student politics

In 1970, Lalu entered in student politics as the general secretary of the Patna University Students’ Union (PUSU), became its president in 1973, joined Jai Prakash Narayan‘ Bihar Movement in 1974 where he became sufficiently close to Janata Party (JP) leaders to become the Janta alliance’s winning candidate in the 1977 Lok Sabha election from Chapra at the age of 29. In 1979, the Janata Party government fell due to in-fighting.The parliament was dissolved with new polls held in 1980. Lalu quit Janta party to join the splinter group, Janta Party-S led by Raj Narain, only to lose the re-election in 1980.He managed to win Bihar Legislative Assembly election later in 1980, and again in 1985 to become leader of opposition in Bihar assembly in 1989.Later in 1989, he was also elected for Lok Sabha under V. P. Singh government.By 1990, he positioned himself as the leader of Yadav (11.7% of the Bihar’s) and lower castes. Muslims, who had traditionally served as Congress (I) vote bank, shifted their support to Prasad after the 1989 Bhagalpur violence. He became popular among the young voters of Bihar.

1990–1997: Lalu and wife as chief ministers of Bihar

In 1990, Janata Dal came to power in Bihar. PM V. P. Singh wanted former chief minister Ram Sundar Das to lead the government. and Chandra Shekhar backed Raghunath Jha. To break deadlock deputy PM Devi Lal nominated Prasad as CM candidate. He was victorious in an internal poll of Janta Dal MLA’s and became the chief minister. On 23 September 1990, Prasad arrested L. K. Advani at Samastipur during the latter’s Ram Rath Yatra to Ayodhya, which establish himself as a secular leader among the people of Bihar. The World Bank lauded his party for its work in the 1990s on the economic front. In 1993, Prasad adopted a pro-English policy and pushed for the re-introduction of English as a language in school curriculum, contrary to the angrezi hatao (banish English) policy of then Uttar Pradesh CM Mulayam Singh Yadav. Policy of opposition to English was considered an anti-elite policy since both the Yadav leaders represented the same social constituents – the backward castes, dalits and minority communities. With the mass support of people of Bihar, Lalu continued to be Bihar CM.

1998–2002: Formation of RJD and out of power

In 1997, due to allegation related to Fodder Scam, a leadership revolt surfaced in Janta Dal, consequently Lalu broke away from Janta Dal and formed a new political party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). In 1998 general for 12th Lok Sabha Lalu won from Madhepura, but lost in 1999 general election to Sharad Yadav. In 2000 Bihar Legislative Assembly election he won and remained in opposition.

2002–2005: RJD and Rabri rule in Bihar

In 2002, Lalu was elected in Rajya Sabha where he stayed till 2004. In 2002, RJD formed the government with Rabri Devi as the CM. Except for brief President rule and 8 days term of Nitish Kumar, RJD remained in power in Bihar till 2005.

2004–2009: Railway Minister

In 2004, Yadav contested general election from Chhapra and Madhepura against Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Sharad Yadav respectively and won from both the seats with a huge margin with the great support and faith of people of Bihar. In total, RJD won 21 seats and it allied with Indian National Congress becoming second-largest member of UPA I after Congress. Yadav became the railway minister in the 2004 UPA Government. Later, he gave up the Madhepura seat.

As railway minister, Yadav left passenger fares untouched and focused on other sources of revenue for the railways. He banned plastic cups from being used to serve tea at railway stations and replaced those with kulhars (earthen cups), in order to generate more employment in rural areas. Later, he also said that he had plans to introduce buttermilk and khādī. In June 2004, he announced that he would get on the railway himself to inspect its problems and went on to board the Patna railway station at midnight.

When he took over, the Indian Railways was a loss-making organisation. In the four years under his leadership, it showed a cumulative total profit of Rs.250 billion (US$5.2 billion). According to CAG, it was the new practice of issuing a “statement of cash and investible surplus” that helped Lalu project a rosy picture. In 2008, the profits shown were ₹25,000 crore (US$3.5 billion). Schools of management became interested in Yadav’s leadership in managing the turnaround The alleged turnaround was introduced as a case study by the prestigious Indian Institute of Management. Yadav also received invitations from eight Ivy League schools for lectures, and addressed over a hundred students from HarvardWharton and others in Hindi.

Harvard Business School and HEC Management School, France, have shown interest in turning Lalu’s experiment with the Railway into case studies for aspiring big graduates.

2005–2010: RJD out of power in Bihar

In November 2005 state elections RJD won 54 seats, less than both Janata Dal United (JDU) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Nitish Kumar led coalition, consisting of JD(U) and BJP, came to power. In the 2010 elections, the RJD tally was reduced to just 22 seats whereas the ruling alliance claimed a record 206 out of the 243 Assembly seats.

2009–2014: Out of power in center and Bihar

In 2009 general election RJD won 4 seats and provided outside support to Manmohan Singh government. In May 2012, Lalu Prasad Yadav envisaged Hamid Ansari, previous vice-president, as a presidential candidate. In May 2013, Lalu Yadav tried to rejuvenate the party and fuel the party workers in his Parivartan Rally. After the conviction in Fodder Scam on 3 October 2013, Yadav was disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha.

In 2014 general election, Lalu Yadav’s RJD again won 4 seats. Lalu Yadav has been working on a merger of six parties to form a Janata Parivar.

2015–current: Conviction in 2 fodder scam cases

In the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, Lalu Yadav’s RJD became the largest party with a total of 81 seats. He along with his partner Nitish Kumar of JD(U) had the absolute majority to form a government in Bihar. This was cited as a major comeback for the RJD and for Lalu Yadav on the political stage of Bihar after a gap of 10 years. But that suffocating alliance did not last long as Nitish Kumar dumped and ousted Lalu’s party from the power and alliance in July 2017 after the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation lodged several criminal cases against Lalu’s son and Deputy Chief Minister, Tejashwi Yadav.

Writings

Lalu Prasad has written his autobiography named Gopalganj to Raisina Road.

Filmography

Legacy

Books

  • A writer named Neena Jha has written a book on Lalu Prasad named Lalu Prasad, India’s miracle.
  • Book named LalooPrasad Yadav: A Charismatic Leader was published in 1996.
  • “The Making of Laloo Yadav, The Unmaking of Bihar”, updated and reprinted under the title “Subaltern Sahib: Bihar and the Making of Laloo Yadav”, is a book based on Lalu’s life by Sankarshan Thakur.