Laloo Prasad Yadav
Born in 1947 in Gopalganj (Bihar) to a farmer family, a Yadav by caste (OBC, Other Backward Classes), Laloo Prasad Yadav studied Law at Patna University, where he became general secretary of the student union. Together with his fellow students, he joined the movement inspired by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), Raj Narain, Karpoori Thakur and S. N. Sinha. In Bihar, the JP movement was extremely tough and it led him to jail. He came out in triumph when Emergency was lifted and was then elected to the Lok Sabha, on a Janata ticket. At the age of 29 years, he was then one of the youngest Members of Parliament (MP) and it was just the beginning of a flamboyant story. He came to the limelight after the shameful violence which shook Bhagalpur in 1989 and also when he stopped L. K. Advani’s yatra in Samastipur on 23 October 1990. He had just been elected Chief Minister of Bihar after the victory at the polls of the Janata Dal (Bihar assembly election). Muslims had gathered around him, strengthening what was to become a formidable alliance with the OBCs, backbone of a new party, the RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal), which he founded in 1997. This party was to have a checkered history, with its leader involved in various corruption cases, always bouncing back. It is his wife, Rabri Devi, who had to join in and govern in his stead as chief minister of Bihar from 1997 to 2005. Laloo is still known today as a fierce opponent of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian People’s Party) and as a defender of the backward castes (he actively lobbied for implementation of the Mandal report’s recommendations). Laloo was also a very active Union Minister for Railways from 2004 to 2009. He introduced a new style to India’s political scene, employing the Bhojpuri dialect when speaking in Parliament in order to assert his rustic and popular background. Ultimately, he had to concede victory to his arch rival, Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal [U]), who was and still is fully supported by the BJP.
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KUMAR, Sanjay, 1999. “New Phase in Backward Caste Politics in Bihar.” Economic and Political Weekly 34 (34–35) (August 21–28): 2472–480.
ROBIN, Cyril. 2004. “2005 Bihar elections: Laloo against Who?” Economic and Political Weekly, 39 (51) (December 18-24): 5361-5362