It’s well known when Lalu Yadav was a student at Patna University in the early 70’s, he had a simmering resentment against the upper castes, particularly the Bhumihars of Bihar. He had experienced firsthand how the members of the elite castes manipulated results, appointments and promotions in practically every area of the public or academic life. That seething anger later on propelled him into forming a broader coalition of Backward castes, Muslims and Harijans against the upper caste domination.
The JP movement, the elevation of Karpoori Thakur in the state politics, the Mungeri Lal Commission Report, the Mandal Commission Report, the Prime Ministership of V. P. Singh, the implementation of the ‘Reservation System’, and eventually the Chief Ministership - Lalu Yadav helped trounce the supremacy of the Forward Castes in Bihar politics that continues since 1990.
Lalu had, therefore, learnt many of his social and political techniques by observing behaviors of the upper caste elites. One of them was how to climb up in the political, social, and financial ladder through marriage. He got his daughters and his first son married into the families of politicians and bureaucrats.
The marriage of his first daughter, Misa Bharati, during Lalu’s CM'ship in the winter of 1999, was a record-breaking event in the city of Patna. Yadav politicians from all over Bihar and other states converged with all kinds of gifts ranging from cash, vehicles, and special Dahi (yogurt) to sacks of basmati rice. The government machinery was blatantly used; the motor dealers were forced to provide brand new vehicles at the services of Lalu Yadav.
The grandiose was organized to show off that the nouveau riche king of the Yadavs was in no way inferior to the upper caste ex-zamindars or mahanths (mainly Bhumihars, Rajputs and Brahmins) of Bihar. Lalu established that he could outbeat the Forward castes in the vulgar display of wealth. His Socialist underpinnings of Gandhi, Lohia and Jay Prakash were thrown into the garbage.
Likewise, when Lalu’s 7th and the last daughter was married (February, 2015) into the family of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the former Chief Minister of U.P., colossal amount of money was spent on the wedding in U.P. (Mainpuri) and on reception in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi found time to attend both the events; Amitabh Bachchan attended the Tilak ceremony. It was reported that special temporary European-style cottages were constructed in Delhi to house the guests.
Thirteen years later, came the turn of Lalu’s first son to get married in 2018. A 29-year-old young man who couldn’t complete his high school education despite all the privileges, briefly foisted on Bihar as its health minister (Nov 2015 to July 2017) was tied into wedlock with the granddaughter of a former Yadav CM of Bihar, Daroga Prasad Rai. It was again a leg up in the social-political scale.
In the aftermath of the fodder scam verdict which incarcerated Lalu Yadav, the political atmosphere was certainly different and the morale of the Yadavs remained low. However, the wedding with 7000 guests didn’t show any diminution in the ostentatious nature of the wedding. In fact, it was reported that the arrangement was there for 10000 guests; some of them turned into stealers of food, pots and pans in the night.
Several questions understandable to a common man arise from this disgusting but very predictable show. From the first wedding (1999) to the eighth wedding (2018) in the family, imagine Lalu’s known sources of income and expense. Where was the conscience of so many leaders whose party, the Congress, talked of legislating guest control acts against waste in a country that ranks 67th in the Global Hunger Index (among 84 countries)? Who paid for such mammoth parties and what were their sources of income? Is this not a case of unaccounted money coming from unknown sources?
Worst of all, why the Governor of the state of Bihar, members of the judiciary, the current Chief Minister and scores of other public officials would mingle or sit publicly with a court-convicted felon at a wedding reception? Why will they accept the invitation in the first place? With their participation, have they not legitimized the shameless use of black money in their midst. Is this not an insult to the 110 million people of Bihar?
The most vexing crucial question for the next generation of Bihar is how the millennials take and respond to such issues. Do they decide to change the course or continue to either perpetuate or tolerate the vultures’ unquenchable hunger for money, power and exploitation?
Like Lalu’s two sons, most of the offspring of corrupt politicians or public officials were born in the 80’s. They have seen how their parents became super-rich from the rags. At the same time, however, they have also observed what their parents (or, their parents’ friends) had to go through once they were caught in the grip of the laws and their enforcement. The combined examples of the likes of Jagannath Mishra, Lalu Yadav, Shahabuddin, or Madhu Koda should have opened up their eyes to the fact that even in an imperfect, flawed system, the culprits don’t always go unpunished in Bihar (or in India).
It appears logical, therefore, that the children of the current generation of politicians would warn their parents against bad behavior. They must rebel against the ways their parents went about making money.
One can assume Aishwarya Rai, a business management graduate, daughter of a former minister, should have raised doubts about marrying an 11-grader who couldn’t read clearly an oath typed in Hindi; as a health minister, he would bring in an officer to read his reply on the floor of the House. Should Aishwarya Rai have vetted her would-be husband on his merit or be attracted by the wealth behind him?
Apparently, Aishwarya Rai, an educated woman from an enlightened family, didn’t protest marrying into a family that was enmeshed in all kinds of cases of fraud and deceit. It’s quite possible, in an arranged marriage setting, she didn’t have the option of saying ‘no.’ Or, she must have acquiesced into the prospect of becoming a member of a Yadav family full of ill-gotten wealth, power and influence. It’s quite worrisome in either situation.
Aishwarya deserved to find life partner on her own. However, if she had chosen to be a member of the Lalu clan, she must initiate reforming her in-law's family from within. As a first step, she must persuade her husband to declare he wouldn’t be the inheritor of his father’s unaccounted wealth. She should then convince Tejaswi to renounce the path his father adopted to get to the top. Then, together with Tejaswi’s wife (to-be), she must come out clean and steer the family in a radically new direction: The direction of seeking after truth, goodwill and cooperation.
If that doesn’t happen, brides in Lalu’s family may sadly have the same fate as that of Lalu’s wife, Rabri and their daughter, Misa, that is, finding themselves in the tangle of investigations and interrogations.
They will certainly not be able to outcompete the traditional Forward castes, Lalu’s nemesis.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.