Lalu Yadav turned 73 today, a life of a subaltern leader and a humorist politician

Image: Raisina Hill

Languishing in a Jharkhand jail, while the world is turning upside down, Lalu Yadav turned 73 this day. Born in a humble family, the story of Laloo’s rise and fall encompasses a phase in Indian politics that forever changed the equation of political power.

Here are five stories about his life:

  • Born in Phulwaria, a town that boasts progress, Laloo coming from a backward caste, faced caste discrimination in its sterile form. His caste didn’t hinder him to brave the sullied life in his village though. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Laws and a Master in Political Science from B. N. College of Patna University. In his university days, Laloo was instrumental in Jay Prakash Narayan’s Bihar movement in 1974 making it to a list of politicians who were incubated under the emergency.
  • From his usual seat of Chapra, where he has been contesting for decades, Lalu was elected as the youngest Member of Parliament in 1977. Starting from there Lalu accomplished many feats that his contemporaries were unable to achieve. 1990 was the year when he started his first term as a Chief Minister of Bihar with Janata Party. After the split from Janata Party Lalu formed his own party Rashtriya Janata Dal. Since then “Laloo Yadav’s politics was an angry revolt against sahebdom, against the age-old order appointed by the upper-caste of Bihar,” wrote Sankarshan Thakur in his book ‘The Brothers Bihari.’
  • Laloo is the irreversible alchemy of personal charm and political cunning that distinguished him from other politicians. The subaltern saheb with unmatchable humor won hearts across the nation. He detested sahebdom yet found him tangled with charges of fodder scam, disproportionate assets cases, and tax evasions that sealed Bihar’s fate and his fate as well.
  • He established himself as a secular leader when he arrested L. K. Advani at Samastipur on the latter’s Ram Rath Yatra to Ayodhya. Today his presence is missed by many in the country when the opposition has been almost swiped away under an autocratic regime.
  • The story of Laloo is a story of a social democrat who tried to displace traditional modes of elite formation based on education, ability, and leadership qualities and created a parallel avenue for the acquisition of power.
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