Lalu Prasad Yadav
Yadav as Union Minister of Railways, addressing in New Delhi, September 12, 2004.
President of the Rashtriya Janata Dal
Assumed office
05 July 1997
Preceded byPosition Established
Minister of Railways
In office
24 May 2004 – 23 May 2009
Prime MinisterManmohan Singh
Preceded byNitish Kumar
Succeeded byMamata Banerjee
20th Chief Minister of Bihar
In office
4 Apr 1995 – 25 Jul 1997
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byRabri Devi
In office
10 Mar 1990 – 28 Mar 1995
Preceded byJagannath Mishra
Succeeded byPresident's rule
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Succeeded byRajiv Pratap Rudy
In office
24 May 2004 – 22 May 2009
Preceded byRajiv Pratap Rudy
Succeeded byConstituency delimitated
In office
2 Dec 1989 – 13 Mar 1991
Preceded byRambahadur Singh
Succeeded byLal Babu Rai
In office
23 Mar 1977 – 22 Aug 1979
Preceded byRamshekhar Prasad Singh
Succeeded bySatya Deo Singh
Personal details
Born (1948-06-11) 11 June 1948 (age 75)
Phulwariya village, Gopalganj district, Bihar, India
Political partyRashtriya Janata Dal
(m. 1973)
RelationsTej Pratap Singh Yadav (son)
Chiranjeev Rao (son-in-law)
Sadhu Yadav (brother-in-law)
Subhash Prasad Yadav (brother-in-law)
Children9 (incl. Tejashwi Yadav, Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti)
  • Kundan Ray (father)
  • Marachhiya Devi (mother)
Alma materPatna University (M.A., LLB)

Lalu Prasad Yadav (born 11 June 1948) is an Indian politician and president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).[1][2][3] He is a former Chief Minister of Bihar (1990-1997), a former Railway Minister of India (2004-2009), and a former Member of Parliament (MP) of the Lok Sabha.

He entered politics at Patna University as a student leader and in 1977 at the age of 29, was elected as the youngest member of the Lok Sabha for the Janata Party. He became the Chief Minister of Bihar in 1990. His party came to power in 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election in partnership with Nitish Kumar of JD(U). This coalition ended when Nitish resigned and RJD was ousted, becoming the opposition party. In 2020 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, RJD remained the single largest party in Bihar, and along with JD(U) in power after JD(U) rejoined MGB in 2022, headed the government until JD(U) returned to NDA. Lalu Yadav was convicted in the controversial Fodder Scam, and was serving a term until 17 April 2021, when he was granted bail from the High Court.[4]

Early life and education

Lalu Prasad, second of his parents six sons, was born in Phulwariya village (on Gopalganj-Kushinagar highway NH-27) in Gopalganj district of Bihar to Kundan Ray and Marachhiya Devi, and attended a local middle school before moving to Patna with his elder brother.[5]

After completing Bachelor of Laws and a M.A.[6] 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. Lalu Prasad belongs to Yadav agricultural caste.[7] He turned down Patna University's Honorary Doctorate in 2004.[8]

Personal life and family

See also: Political families of Bihar

Lalu Prasad Yadav married Rabri Devi on 1 June 1973, in an arranged marriage, and they went on to have seven daughters and two sons.[9][10][11]

Note: Rahul Yadav is son of Jitendra Yadav, former MLC from the Samajwadi Party. Jitendra is the nephew of former MP D. P. Yadav.

Political career

1970–1990: Student leader and youngest MP

Lalu Prasad Yadav addressing Yuva Janata Dal in Nayagaon, Sonpur in 1988

In 1970, Lalu entered in student politics as the general secretary of the Patna University Students' Union (PUSU), became its president in 1973,[5] joined Jai Prakash Narayan' Bihar Movement in 1974[14] 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.[5][15] 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.[16] Muslims, who had traditionally served as Congress (I) vote bank, shifted their support to Prasad after the 1989 Bhagalpur violence.[17] He became popular among the young voters of Bihar.[18]

1990–1997: Lalu Yadav as Chief Minister 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.[7] 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,[19] which establish himself as a secular leader among the people of Bihar.[20] The World Bank lauded his party for its work in the 1990s on the economic front.[21] 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.[22] With the mass support of people of Bihar, Lalu continued to be Bihar CM.[7]

1997–2000: Formation of RJD and National Politics

RJD flag

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).[23] In 1998 general for 12th Lok Sabha Lalu won from Madhepura,[24] but lost in 1999 general election to Sharad Yadav.[5] In 2000 Bihar Legislative Assembly election he won and remained in opposition.[25]

2000–2005:Rabri Devi as Chief Ministers of Bihar

In 2002, Lalu was elected in Rajya Sabha where he stayed until 2004. In 2002, RJD formed the government with Rabri Devi as the CM. Except for brief President rule and 7 days term of Nitish Kumar, RJD remained in power in Bihar until 2005.[26]

2004–2009: Union Minister of Railway

Lalu Prasad Yadav assumes the charge as Railways Minister in New Delhi on May 24, 2004

In May 2004, Lalu 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.[27] In total, RJD won 21 seats and it allied with Indian National Congress becoming second-largest member of UPA I after Congress. Lalu Yadav became the Railway Minister in the 2004 UPA Government. Later, he gave up the Madhepura seat.[28]

As railway minister, Lalu 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.[29] Later, he also said that he had plans to introduce buttermilk[30] and khādī.[31] In June 2004, he announced that he would get on the railway himself to inspect its problems and went on to board the train from Patna Railway station at midnight.[32]

When he took over, the Indian Railways was a loss-making organisation.[33] In the years under his leadership, it showed a cumulative total profit of 38,000 crore (US$4.8 billion). Business schools around the world became interested in Lalu Yadav's leadership in managing the turnaround. The turnaround was introduced as a case study by the Indian Institute of Management.[34] Yadav also received invitations from eight Ivy League schools for lectures, and addressed over a hundred students from Harvard, Wharton and others in Hindi.[35] In 2006, the Harvard Business School and HEC Management School, France, have shown interest in turning Lalu Yadav's experiment with the Indian Railway into case studies for aspiring business graduates.[36]

In 2009, Yadav's successor Mamata Banerjee and the opposition parties alleged that the so-called turnaround of the Railways during his tenure was merely a result of presenting financial statements differently.[37][38] A 2011 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) endorsed this view. CAG found that the "surplus" shown on the financial statements during Yadav's tenure covered "cash and investible surplus", which were not included in the "net surplus" figures released by the Railways in the earlier years. The "cash surplus" included the money available for paying dividend, contribution to the Depreciation Reserve Fund used for renewal or replacement of existing assets, and other funds for investment. The "investible surplus" included the money allocated for capital expenditure. The report concluded that the performance of the Railways actually declined marginally during the last few years of Lalu's tenure.[39]

Yadav together with Ram Vilas Paswan and Amar Singh at a party rally in Mumbai during the 2009 general elections

2005–2015: Out of power in Bihar and Center

Bihar Assembly elections were held twice in the year 2005. There was a fractured verdict in February 2005 Assembly Election. Since no government could be formed in Bihar, fresh elections were held in October–November the same year. 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.[26] In 2009 general election RJD won 4 seats and provided outside support to Manmohan Singh government.[40] In May 2012, Lalu Prasad Yadav envisaged Hamid Ansari, previous vice-president, as a presidential candidate.[41] In May 2013, Lalu Yadav tried to rejuvenate the party and fuel the party workers in his Parivartan Rally.[42] 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.

2015–current: Grand Alliance

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.[43][44]

Positions held

Lalu Prasad Yadav has been elected 4 times as MLA and 5 times as Lok Sabha MP.[45][46]

# From To Position Party
1. 1977 1979 MP (1st term) in 6th Lok Sabha from Chapra Janata Party
2. 1980 1985 MLA (1st term) from Sonpur in 8th Vidhan Sabha Janata Party
3. 1985 1989 MLA (2nd term) from Sonpur Lok Dal
4. 1989 1990 MP (2nd term) in 9th Lok Sabha from Chapra (resigned in 1990) Janata Dal
5. 1990 1995 * MLC (1st term) in Bihar Legislative Council
* Chief Minister (1st term) in Government of Bihar
Janata Dal
6. 1995 1998 * MLA (3rd term) from Raghopur and Danapur (1995-1996)
* Chief Minister (2nd term) in Government of Bihar (1995-1997)
Janata Dal
7. 1998 1999 MP (3rd term) in 12th Lok Sabha from Madhepura RJD
8. 2000 2000 MLA (4th term) from Raghopur (resigned in 2000) and Danapur (resigned in 2002) RJD
9. 2002 2004 MP (1st term) in Rajya Sabha from Bihar (resigned in 2004) RJD
10. 2004 2009 * MP (4th term) in 14th Lok Sabha from Chapra and Madhepura (resigned from Madhepura in 2004)
* Minister of Railways in Government of India
11. 2009 2013 MP (5th term) in 15th Lok Sabha from Saran (disqualified in 2013, due to conviction in Fodder Scam) RJD


Populist policies and consolidation of lower castes

Shri Lalu Prasad presenting a cheque of Rs. thirty lacs to Akhil Kumar at the opening ceremony of the 56th Senior National Kabaddi (Men & Women) Championship being organized by Railway Sports Promotion Board.

According to Seyed Hossein Zarhani, although Laloo Prasad became a hate figure among Forward Castes, he drew huge support from backward castes and Dalits. He was criticised for neglecting development, but a study conducted during his reign, among downtrodden Musahars revealed that despite the construction of houses for them not being concluded at required pace, they are obliged to choose him as their leader as he returned them their ijjat (honour) and for the first time they are allowed to vote as per their own wishes. A number of populist policies which directly impacted his "Backward Caste" supporters were launched during his tenure. Some of these being establishment of Charvaha schools, where children of poor could get skilled; abolishment of cess on toddy and making of the negligence of rules related to reservation for "Backward Castes" as cognizable offence. Yadav mobilised 'Backwards' through his identity politics. According to his conception, Forward Castes were elite in the outlook and thus he portrayed himself as, "Messiah of Backwards" by ensuring that his way of living remain identical to his supporters who were mostly poor. He even continued to reside in his quarter of one room after getting elected as Chief Minister, though later he moved to official residence of the CM for administrative convenience.[48]

Another significant event during his regime was the recruitment of 'Backward Castes' and communities to government services in large numbers. The government's white paper claimed to have significant number of vacancies in health sector and similar manpower crunch existed across various sectors. The rules of recruitment were changed drastically in order to benefit "Backward Castes", who supported him. The frequent transfer of existing officers, who were at the higher echelon of bureaucracy was also an important feature of Yadav and Rabri Devi's regime. These developments led to collapse of administration and entire system. Yadav however continued to rule Bihar due to massive support from "Backward Castes" as well as his emphasis on "honour" which he considered more important than the development. Thus according to Zarhani, for the lower caste he was a charismatic leader who was capable to become the voice of those who were silent for long.[48][49]

Another form of mobilisation of his Dalit supporters by Laloo Yadav was popularising all those folk heroes of lower castes, who were said to have vanquished the upper caste adversaries. One such example is of a popular Dalit saint who was revered as he not only ran away with an upper caste girl but also suppressed all her kins. Praising him could enrage Bhumihar caste in some parts of Bihar. There is a grand celebration every year at a particular place near Patna and Yadav participates in this fair with pomp and show. His energetic participation in this show makes it a rallying point for Dalits, who saw it as their victory and the harassment of upper castes.[50]

According to Kalyani Shankar, Yadav created a feeling amongst the oppressed that they are real rulers of state under him. He continuously lambasted the oppressors on the behalf of the oppressed and led to their emergence as the pivot of political power. The upper caste, who composed just 13.2% of the population, were controlling most of the land while the 'Backwards', who were 51%, own very little land. The advent of Lalu led to a drastic change in the economic profile of the state, followed by the diversification of the occupation of the 'Backwards' and increase in land owned by them.[51]

Yadav also instilled a sense of confidence among Muslims by stopping Lal Krishna Advani's controversial "Rath yatra". Muslims of Bihar were feeling a sense of insecurity after the ghastly 1989 Bhagalpur riots. The Satyendra Narayan Singh government failed to control law and order situation thus death toll reached over 1000. The people affected were mostly poor weavers and others belonging to low strata of society and hence they were looking for a leader who could control the deteriorating situation of state under Congress. According to Kalyani, during this period upper castes were totally marginalised and 'Backwards' came to control the power firmly.[51]

Emergence as the leader of plebeians

During his tenure, Yadav never tried to emulate the erstwhile elite chief ministers. He took part in the public festivals and popularised his famous Kurta far Holi (cloth tearing Holi). On this occasion his invitees and the media persons would reach his house shouting: Kaha Chhupal hai Lalu Sala (Where is the bloody Lalu hiding ?). Yadav also responded in a similar abusive tone. The vulgar songs were also played on the occasion.[52] Besides this, he never hesitated in calling himself as a son of poor Goala (herder). During his public celebration of Holi festival, he used to play the Dhol himself and dance on the beat of Jogira song. Yadav's rallies were called railla, a symbol of masculinity. Those participating in these rallies were supposed to carry a lathi, a robust stick, which was both the symbol of "masculinity" as well as the chief weapon of a "herder", who used it to manage his cows. The drinking of Bhang, a natural liquor and sitting the whole night to watch the Launda dance (Dance of a Eunuch acting as a woman) made him popular among rural Biharis but all of these obscene activities of a Chief Minister irritated the middle class sensibilities.[53] According to Ashwini Kumar:

An astute mix of lower caste with minority politics therefore helped Lalu Yadav to establish his hold over the political scenario in Bihar. This marked the beginning of, what came to be known as 'Total politics' in which the identity of caste, class and religion came to be manipulated and exploited by the new state elite to retain and remain in power forever. As opposed to the traditional Congress-centric secular politics, the new secular politics of Lalu Yadav was non Brahmanical, vernacular and popular.[54]

Confrontation with bureaucracy and other policies

See also: Bara massacre

Lalu Prasad interacting with a group of MBA students from University of Texas and University of Virginia (USA) on the topic " Turn Around of Indian Railways," in New Delhi on March 16, 2007.

With the coming in power of Yadav, the representation of OBC saw a spurt in the legislative assembly of state. The upper-caste were at great disadvantage due to the new caste composition of the state legislature. In his second tenure, when the elections of 1995 took place in the state, the OBC legislators became 49.69 per cent in the assembly and the upper caste legislators fell to 17.28 per cent, a massive decline since 1960s (In 1995 Bihar Legislative Assembly elections, only 61 upper caste legislators were elected, while the number of Backward Caste legislators was 165[55]). The domination of the Backwards in the legislature brought it into conflict with the bureaucracy, which was still dominated by the upper-castes. There witnessed a hike in incidents of corruption, because the upper-caste bureaucrats utilised the 'lack of knowledge' in administration of the new legislators (from the OBC background) to stealthily sabotage and subvert constructive policies of the Yadav's government.[56]

Since, the administrative class belonged to landed class of upper caste; the Thakur, Bhumihar, Kayastha and Brahmin, they aimed at this obstruction, in order to secure not only their personal interest, but also the interest of the social class, they belonged to. The advent of Yadav to power was considered as end of their dominance. Hence, amidst confrontation between the bureaucracy and the legislature, the upper-caste dominated bureaucracy became determined to obstruct the caste based social justice promoted by the Janata Dal government under Yadav. They often resorted to frequent defiance of orders to maintain the status-quo. Hence, the government undermined the bureaucracy, as the government, which is said to have voted to power on the platform of OBC empowerment, was also determined to bring the social justice, even at the cost of administrative disfunction.[56]

At the time, the caste composition of judiciary also mirrored the bureaucracy and latter too come into conflict with the government. In the meantime, in the year 1996, a major scandal was witnessed in the state, which involved embezzlement of billions of rupees from the Animal Husbandry Department of state. Initially, the case was to be investigated by Bihar police, which means, government to be in the control of the investigation, but later the judiciary came into play, and the reservation of the case by Supreme Court for Central Bureau of Investigation, saw Patna High Court assuming charge over the case. The Fodder Scam, as it was called was a new series of conflict between the government on one hand and the CBI and Judiciary at the other hand.[56]

Between 1990 and 2005, the government under Yadav's Janata Dal undertook several measures to strengthen the control of OBCs, Scheduled Caste and Muslims over bureaucracy. Latter were given the powerful position like those of District Magistrate. Transfers of the upper echelon of bureaucracy was also frequently resorted to. In the year 1993, the post of Director General of Police as well as Chief Secretary were both given to officers belonging to lower castes and the incumbent officers, who were both Brahmins were removed. Since the strategy of transfer of unwanted bureaucrats has a limit, Yadav's government was adamant in use of quota to fill these posts with the officials from the subaltern background. If unable to appoint the lower castes, the government chose to keep many posts vacant, to prevent the upper castes from occupying them.[56]

In order to weaken the upper-caste bureaucracy, the scope for intervention in its functioning by the party officials, belonging to Janata Dal was kept open.Hence, increased interference by party activists in the functioning of bureaucracy and police was witnessed. Meanwhile, the resurgence of the OBCs and SCs also resulted in extension of patronage to many of the Bahubalis ( a term representing someone with money and muscle power with criminal background) from these social groups. Yadav is said to have patronised; Pappu Yadav, operating out of Purnea and Madhepura districts; Vinod Yadav, operating out of Bhagalpur district; Surendra Yadav, operating out of Gaya district; Mohammad Shahabuddin, operating out of Siwan district; Makhi Paswan, operating out of Khagaria district; and Mohammed Suleiman, operating out of Kishanganj district.[56] Yadav's aide Brij Bihari Prasad, who was known for his muscle power ended the crime empire of Devendra Dubey, that was spread from East Champaran to Muzaffarpur district.[57] Naxal leaders like Ravindra Singh Kushwaha, who were waging a war against the landlords through various naxal organisations active in the state, were invited to Janata Dal and allotted tickets to contest in assembly election. Subsequently, all the criminal cases against him were dropped, during the premiership of Yadav.[58]

A popular opinion outside Bihar with respect to weakening of bureaucracy and "breakdown of governance" was the presence of rampant corruption and leadership's ineptitude in Yadav's regime. But, according to Jeffrey Witsoe, the RJD deliberately weakened the state institutions controlled by upper-castes in order to empower the lower castes. The OBCs were in control of government but the media and the bureaucracy along with the judiciary was still in control of upper-castes, it was this upper-caste dominance of the other state institutions that the OBC leadership was vying to end by trying to displace the upper-castes effectively from power.[59]

In the meantime, accusations were laid against Yadav's government for fomenting caste based antagonism between various social groups. Various commentators have stressed that under Yadav's Janata Dal rule, the agricultural labourers and untouchables became vocal for respect from the dominant class and the fair wages. Retaliation on the part of lower castes were also seen, when the dominant caste militias tried to quell their revolt on these grounds. In one such case, in December 1991, a dominant caste militia called "Savarna Liberation Front" gangraped and murdered ten Dalit women, in retaliation, the left wing militants all belonging either Dalit or Backward Castes killed thirty five people from the dominant caste.[60] William Dalrymple has chronicled the account of a dominant caste landowner who survived the massacre. The interlocutor of Dalrymple, who declared the incident to be a handiwork of Bihar government under Yadav said:

The government will not protect us. It is on their side. This is the Kali Yug, the epoch of disintegration. The lower castes are rising up. Everything is falling apart.[60]

Another account from the Sargana Gram Panchayat area testifies the change in established socio-political order brought by the government under Yadav. A large Rajput farmer from the Panchayat constituency, who had been a predecessor of the incumbent Mukhiya of the village said:

The Backwards control the Government. In return, the Government pampers the Backwards (Sar pe chadha kar rakha hai). Not only that, they talk about empowering the harijans. They have both ruined the State. To top it all, they say they will protect the Pakistanis (an epithet to describe Muslims)....[60]

As per one opinion, Yadav extended tacit support to the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC), and in the period of caste wars, he, as a Chief Minister frequently visited the places, where the victims were from Backward Castes. It is opined that many people from these castes voted him, only because he represented their aspiration of speaking back and becoming virile. The poor of the state couldn't gain much in terms of jobs and services of state, but they were no longer left to be treated with disdain.[61] Nandini Gooptu has mentioned some studies from the rural Bihar, belonging to the time period following the coming into power of Yadav, where the Schedule Castes like Musahars became vocal for their rights including wages, for the work they do under 'employment guarantee schemes' of government. In one such study, a Musahar woman was recorded abusing the government officials belonging to Rajput caste for cheating [them] on wages due to them. Similarly, in another case, a Schedule Tribe Santhal was recorded taunting son of a Kayastha landlord. Many changes were observed at the lowest level of governance too; in one such case, a Rajput landlord family was replaced by a Kevat caste man for the post of Mukhiya in a village. These changes in the rural Bihar was found to be remarkable, considering the brutally enforced inequalities persisting therein for years.[62]

In the early years of his rise in political circle, Yadav was also successful in creating defection in the left-wing political parties of the state, which had long history of association with Naxalism. In the areas around Nalanda and Aurangabad, the weakening of the CPI-ML liberation is attributed to the significant rise of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led by Yadav. The RJD successfully attracted the Koeri and Yadav leadership of the party, thus strengthening itself at the cost of liberation. The leaders of CPI (ML) liberation, who defected to RJD included, Shri Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, Umesh Singh, K.D Yadav and Suryadev Singh.[63][64]

Yadav's rule also led to breaking away of patron-client relationship in elections between the upper castes and the Dalits. The labourers of the upper caste landlords were primarily people from Dalit background, who were forced to vote in the elections as per the wishes of their masters, the upper castes. But, in this period, the agricultural labourers were given free hand in exercising their power to select their representatives. This transformation of the existing system brought political freedom for a large number of Dalits.[55]

Earlier, the primary schools, which served as polling station during the elections used to be present in the upper caste villages. Hence, the Dalits needed to visit the upper caste villages to vote during elections. This was a problematic arrangement as the upper caste used to coerce them to vote their preferred candidate. However, journalist Amberish K Diwanji, who visited many villages in Bihar during 2005 Assembly elections, found that these schools were shifted to lower caste villages, by Lalu Prasad Yadav when he assumed the charge of state in earlier elections. This prevented the upper castes from coercing the Dalits during elections, and latter can exercise their franchise freely. Diwanji also noted that there existed robust social bonding between Yadavs and Musahars in some regions of Madhepura district. As per his report, in this region, the Yadavs had taken the place of upper caste in deciding, to whom the Musahars will vote. But, unlike upper castes, who didn't mingle with the Musahars, the Yadavs, specially the poor ones, considered them as equal. Due to similar economic condition, the poor Yadavs in the region, mingled with the Musahars, their children play with each other and they behaved as a single social unit. Reportedly, this bonding often transforms into votes and Musahars prefers Lalu Prasad Yadav than any other political leader.[65]

In some of the regions of the rural area of South Bihar, after the establishment of rule of Janata Dal under Lalu Prasad Yadav, the realignment in the policy of militant organisations like Maoist Communist Centre was observed. The MCC was dominated by the members of Yadav caste in the leadership position and the Schedule Castes served as the foot soldiers. Before advent of Lalu Prasad Yadav on the scene in 1980s, MCC was waging a "class war", however, after Yadav assumed the premiership of the state the Yadav caste and Schedule Castes of the MCC shifted their loyalty to him. Earlier, the MCC had targeted Rajputs in the Dalelchak-Bhagaura massacre, but according to author Shashi Bhushan Singh, Yadav wanted a political alliance with the Rajputs and he directed the MCC members, specially his castemen to stop targeting the Rajputs. The Rajputs also accepted the dominance of Naxalite groups over the time in some regions of south Bihar and the Bhumihars remained the major challenger to both the Naxalites as well as the rule of Lalu Prasad Yadav.[66]

After perpetrating a number of massacre of Dalits, Ranvir Sena, the caste based militia of Bhumihar caste perpetrated Miyanpur massacre in 2000, in Aurangabad, Bihar. In this massacre, the Yadav caste was victim; over 30 people were killed by Sena in this incident. However, it is reported that this incident set tone for decline of Sena. As the party of Lalu Prasad Yadav, which was in government took stringent administrative policies on one hand to counter Sena, on the other hand various naxalite group also resolved their internal differences and started an extermination campaign of the men of Sena in small operations.[67]

Combination of political and non-political conflicts

Lalu Prasad inspecting Guard of Honour at the Anniversary-cum-Investiture Parade on November 22, 2006.

The society of Bihar was divided into OBCs, SCs and Forward Castes (upper caste); the forward castes had dominated the democratic institutions of the state in the rule of Congress and only a section of OBCs were politically conscious to think of replacing them from political power, this section, which included only three caste (Koeri, Kurmi and Yadav) also owned land in other parts of Bihar, but was poor in the areas dominated of the forward castes. They took land on tenancy from the forward castes, as they were marginal farmers in these areas. A fair number of the OBCs were also employed in the state institutions and were among educated servicemen in the urban areas. They remained victims of the high handedness of the upper-caste colleagues and the rivalry between them was evolving over time.[68]

In rural areas, the OBCs were also confronting the MBC or Extremely Backward Class (also called Most Backward Castes, the category which includes more than hundred Backward Castes, other than trio of Koeri, Kurmi and Yadav) and the Scheduled Castes, but the upper-castes treated all sections of Backward Castes in the same manner, causing much resentment among the elite section of the Backwards. In the rural areas, the upper-castes countered the Most Backward Classes and Schedule Castes, when they wanted to eschew the village based livelihood options. They [upper-castes] reacted violently, when the MBC or the SCs tried to detach from any social institutions, that were symbol of low caste status. Since for different reasons, the OBCs, MBCs and the SCs were all pitted against the common rivals, the upper-castes, and the bitterness between the OBCs and the forward castes had strengthened after the anti-reservation protest launched by the upper-castes, unification of these social groups took place against the forward castes.[68]

The rise of Lalu Prasad Yadav provided an opportunity to unite all these social groups and the Naxalite groups, which had many OBCs in the leadership positions, also supported the political party led by Yadav. Maoist Communist Centre of India, one of the most significant Naxalite group also sided with the interest of OBCs, and the MCC activists started providing armed backing to the Most Backward Classes and the Schedule Castes to exercise their franchise in order to led the candidates of Yadav's party towards victory. Hence, for a while, the boundary between political and Naxalite movement got blurred.[68]

According to Professor Shashi Bhushan Singh, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, since the numerical strength of upper-caste (approximately 20% of state's population) was not enough to have large number of MLAs in the state legislature in order to control the Backward Castes, they resorted to undemocratic practices in order to retain the power in their hand, leading to rise of militancy among a section of Backwards.

The forward castes were required to send large numbers of MLAs into the state legislature, but devoid of numerical strength and encountering aggressive backward classes, the forward castes started looting polling booths with the help of the state officials and police who were mainly from among the forward castes. Subsequently the state became a biased entity. Thus, while most of the backward classes still reposed their faith in democratic struggle, a section of OBCs were attracted towards non-democratic ideas and organisations to confront the forward castes.[68]

According to Singh, when Lalu Prasad Yadav asked for support from the members of Backward Castes, he was actually asking it in order to change the entire social order, in which upper caste were at advantage. The reservation policy introduced by the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations though didn't benefitted the Scheduled Castes, yet they supported Yadav against the forward castes.[68]

According to a Social Scientist, who witnessed the encounter of Yadav with a person from the Musahar caste in North India, during his election campaign for 2000 Bihar Assembly elections, Yadav allegedly argued with latter, when he asked him to provide road infrastructure in the region. As per narrative, Yadav believed that the investment by state in physical infrastructure were somehow meant for benefitting the upper castes, who were having significant presence at the higher level of bureaucracy and in professional services. Hence, he blatantly created disruption in the general process of development, until the Upper Backward Castes take over the Forward Castes in these services. A majority of the District Magistrates during his tenure were from the Upper Backward Castes, and he also tried to ensure that the administrative posts at the middle level, for the rank of Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDM) and Block Development Officer (BDO) were also filled by these caste group only. For the professional services like Doctors and Engineers too, same formula was implemented.[69]

According to author Arun Sinha, though Yadav and his colleague and successor Nitish Kumar belonged to same political roots, in the matter of quota politics and the politics of social justice for the deprived section of society, Kumar was accepted to upper castes. One reason behind this was step taken by Kumar for exclusion of well off section of the Backward Castes from the benefits of reservation in government jobs and other state sponsored program for social upliftment. In contrast to Kumar, Yadav has been described by Sinha, and was perceived as a staunch anti-upper caste leader.[69]

The tenure of Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabari Devi coincided with Maoist Communist Centre becoming more violent than earlier. It was during Rabari Devi's tenure that Senari carnage against the Bhumihars took place. In this incident, over hundred armed activists of MCC slaughtered 34 Bhumihars in the village called senari by brutally slitting their throats. As per reports, Rabari Devi refused to visit Senari, probably because the village inhabitants and victims, being member of Bhumihar caste had always opposed her government. It was reported that after being implicated in corruption scandal, Yadav raised his wife to the post of Chief Minister; latter was reportedly illiterate, but this was not offensive to the poor of Bihar. It is observed that for their plight, in the struggle against Dalit dominated naxal groups like MCC, Bhumihars prefer to blame Yadav, who is described as a champion of lower castes.[70]

Political symbolism

Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2008, addressing at Delhi.

Yadav's politics is described as being against the radical Hindu Nationalism promoted by political parties like Bhartiya Janata Party. He employed political symbolism to a large extent in order to confront the politics based on militant religious ideology. In April 2003, he is reported to have organised a great rally at Gandhi Maidan, Patna, which was aimed at radicalising his lower caste supporters and mobilising them against the politics of Bhartiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). In its rally, VHP was distributing Trishuls to the participants, which was a symbol of militant Hindu identity. Yadav asked his rural supporters to join him in Gandhi Maidan with a Lathi (a robust stick) against the Trishuls of VHP. He said that, this implement (Lathi) of the rural poor, which was considered as the weapon of weak, will destroy the Trishul of hatred (an implicit attack on BJP's and VHP's politics of religion).[71]

As per an eyewitness report, on the day of rally, the rural lower caste supporters of Yadav rushed towards Patna; many of them were brought in hurry by the local leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal to showcase their support to Yadav. The theme of the rally was, Bhajpa Bhagao Desh Bachao (get rid of Bhartiya Janata Party and save the country). The rallygoers flooded the city armed with Lathis, and in their way to Patna, many of them occupied the trains rushing towards city forcefully. Many windows of the trains were thrashed and the hostels located in Patna were occupied for the rallygoers. The crowd was so massive that the traffic in the city was destabilized for two days. The supporters were told to apply oil to their Lathis and recite the slogan: Lathi pilavan, Patna laavan, Bhajpa bhagavan, Desh bachavan (we will apply oil to our Lathis, bring it to Patna, remove the Bhartiya Janata Party and save the country). The large gathering of followers of Yadav in capital city of state of Bihar sybmolised the capture of the real centre of power by latter, as the city was reported to have flooded with Lathi welding supporters of Rashtriya Janata Dal, who were mostly the lower caste people coming from rural background.[71]

1996 Gareeb Rally

Yadav's rally were contact point between him and his rural supporters. In 1996, a massive "rally of the poor" (Gareeb Rally) was organised by Janata Dal. Author Bela Bhatia, who was an eyewitness of this rally organised at Patna has mentioned that the poor people who assembled at Patna, were provided free commutation facility to become a part of this rally. There were numerous programmes organised by the office bearers of the Janata Dal for the rallyites. Bhatia has mentioned about the Trains, that were running on Arrah-Patna route, and carrying the rallyites to Patna. As per her description the Trains and Buses were carrying more pessengers than their capacity. Many of the people congregated at Patna either to lodge their grievances to the Chief Minister or in the hope of getting some monetary help. Bhatia describes an event being sponsored by Janata Dal legislator Shyam Rajak for the entertainment of rallyites, symbolising the acquaintance of the Chief Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav with the taste of his rural supporters.[72]

Later at around 10 that night as I made my way from one part of the city to another, I was witness near the station to an incongruous sight, "a randi ka nach' (dance by a prostitute), one of the many similar programmes organised in the city ostensibly for the 'manoranjan' (recreation) of the rallyites. The shamiana was packed with villagers from far and near, the stage was set with green banners and under fluorescent lamps danced a young woman. A modern dancer with step-cut hair, a pink flare skirt swirling around her, as she danced with a mixture of western and traditional dance steps, to the tune of an alluring Magahi love song.[72]

Elevation of grassroot workers to important position

In contrast to elections being based on money power, and the phenomenon of most of the candidates getting elected to houses of legislature in Bihar belonging to high income groups, RJD under Lalu Prasad Yadav has raised grassroot political workers from poor background to important positions in the politics of state. This is done occasionally to showcase the pro-poor stand of Yadav. In 2022, Yadav led election of a Dalit woman, Munni Rajak from Dhobi caste (washerman) to the seventy-five membered Bihar Legislative Council.[73] Another example is of Ramvrikish Sada, the Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA from Alauli Assembly constituency, Khagaria district. Sada has even claimed that, he and his family worship Lalu Prasad Yadav besides Sabari, the deity of Musahars. Sada, who was associated with RJD for thirty years was reported to be the poorest MLA of Bihar in 2020 Bihar Legislative Assembly elections. He claimed that even money for running in election was provided to him by family of Lalu Prasad Yadav and he has just 70,000 in his bank account.[74][75]

Corruption and conviction

Corruption cases

Lalu Prasad Yadav has been convicted and jailed in two scams. As of January 2018, he, his wife Rabri Devi, his sons Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, and his eldest daughter Misa Bharti were all facing charges in several other corruption cases.[76][77]

1996 Fodder Scam – 1st case

Main article: Fodder scam

Yadav was an accused party and later convicted in the first Fodder Scam case of 1996. The case involved the siphoning off of about 4.50 billion ($111.85 million) from the animal husbandry department.[78]

Several allegations of embezzlement from the animal husbandry department were tabled between 1990 and 1995. In January 1996, a raid conducted on Chaibasa treasury indicated the siphoning off of funds by non-existent companies. Yadav ordered an inquiry to probe the irregularities. However, after a public interest litigation, the Bihar High Court in March 1996 ordered the case to be handed over to the CBI.[79] In June 1997, the CBI filed the charge sheet in the case and made Yadav an accused. The charge forced Yadav to resign from the office of Chief Minister, at which time he appointed his wife, Rabri Devi, to the office.[23]

In 2001, the Supreme Court of India transferred the scam cases to newly formed court in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The trial began in 2002. In August 2013, Yadav tried to get the trial court judge transferred, but his plea was rejected by Supreme Court of India. Yadav has been an accused in many of the 53-odd cases filed. He has been remanded to custody on multiple occasions because of the number of cases. Over 64 people were convicted in the case.[80][81] Yadav was first sent to "Judicial remand" (Bihar Military Police guest house, Patna) on 30 July 1997, for 134 days.[82][83] On 28 October 1998, he was again sent to the same guest house for 73 days. When the Supreme Court took exception to his guest house stay, he had also moved to the Beur jail in Patna. On 26 November 2001, Yadav was again remanded, in a case related to the fodder scam.[84] Yadav accused the NDA of creating a conspiracy against him. On 1 October 2004, the Supreme Court served a notice to Yadav and his wife in response to a petition which alleged that they have been interfering with the investigation.

Yadav, along with 44 other accused, was convicted on 30 September 2013 after being found guilty in fraudulent withdrawal of 37 crores (370 million) from Chaibasa treasury.[85] Several other politicians, IAS officers were also convicted in the case.[85] Immediately after the verdict was pronounced, Yadav was arrested and taken to Birsa Munda Central Jail, located at Ranchi.[85] Yadav was disqualified as MP for six years.[86] He was given a jail sentence of five years and a fine of 25 lakh (2.5 million).[87]

He was released on bail from Birsa Munda Central Jail, after he completed the bail formalities in a Special CBI court, 2+12 months after his conviction.[88]

1998 disproportionate assets case

In 1998, a disproportionate assets (DA) case arising out of the fodder scam was registered against Yadav and Rabri Devi.[89] In April 2000, both were made co-accused in the charge-sheet and surrendered. While Rabri Devi got bail due to being Chief Minister of Bihar, Yadav was remanded in Beur jail for 11 days.[82] They were acquitted in 2006. The Bihar government wanted to appeal against the acquittal but the Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that the state government can not challenge such rulings.[90]

1996 Fodder Scam – 2nd case

Yadav was convicted and jailed in the second Fodder Scam case of 8.927 million[91] on the same day 23 December 2017 when his daughter Misa Bharti was also charged by the Enforcement Directorate of having disproportionate assets.[92][93][94] Yadav was convicted 23 December 2017 and sentenced on 6 January 2018 to 312 years' imprisonment and 1,000,000 fine for the fraudulent withdrawal of 8,900,000 from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994.

1996 Fodder Scam – 3rd case

This case, pertaining to scamming 356.2 million scammed from the Chaibasa tresury of West Singhbhum district,[95]

1996 Fodder Scam – 4th case

Yadav was convicted by the special CBI court in the fourth fodder scam case relating to alleged withdrawal of 3.13 crore from the Dumka district treasury over two decades ago.[96] CBI Judge awarded him two separate sentences of seven years each under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Acts.[97]

1996 Fodder Scam – 5th case

This case, pertaining to the scamming Yadav has been found guilty of illegal withdrawals of 139.35 crore from the Doranda treasury by a special CBI court in Jharkhand's Ranchi on 15 February 2022. In February 2022 A CBI court sentenced to five years jail term in fifth case and imposed a fine of 60 lakh.[98] [1]

2005 Indian Railway tender scam

2005 Indian Railway tender scam, investigated by the CBI, is the bribery and corruption case where Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family are charged for illegally receiving prime property from the bidder as a bribe for corruptly awarding the Railway tender during Yadav's tenure as Railway Minister.[76] Transfer of these properties as bribe to Yadav and his children were disguised using the shell companies; for example, wife Rabri Devi and three children, Misa Bharti, Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, received Saguna Mor Mall property worth 45 crore through a shell company named Delight Marketing (renamed as Lara properties), and another shell company AB Exports was used to transfer properties worth 40 crore for a price of 4 lakh to Lalu's other three children Tejashwi Yadav, Ragini and Chanda.[99][100] This case spawned several other related but independent cases, such as disproportionate assets case as well as tax avoidance case by ED.[76] Under the Benami Transactions Prohibition Act recipient of such benami properties can be imprisoned for up to 7 years and fined up to 25% fair market value, and convicted politicians are barred from contesting elections or holding elected position for six years.[99]

2017 Delight Properties case

Investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), against Yadav, his wife, son Tejashwi, daughter Misa and others, arose from the alleged illegal proceeds of the 2005 Indian Railway tender scam.[76] The I-T department issued summons for 12 June 2017 to Misa Bharti, over Benami land deals worth 10 billion (1,000 crores).[94] Misa was officially charged by ED in disproportionate assets case on the same day her father was convicted again in the second fodder scam.[93] After the CBI lodged an FIR on 5 July 2017, ED filed the Case Information Report (ECIR) on 27 July 2017 against Lalu, his wife Rabri, their younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and others in the railways tender corruption and ill-gotten property scam that happened during Lalu's tenure as the Railway Minister.[76] Taking action against this scam, ED of Income Tax Department on 12 September 2017 attached more than 12 properties in Patna and Delhi including the plot for the mall in Patna, a farm house in Delhi and up-market land in Palam Vihar in Delhi.[76] This includes the transfer of 450 million (45 crore) Seguna mor benami property transferred to Lalu's wife Rabri Devi and children Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav by using a shell company named Delight Properties, which was later renamed as Lara Properties.[100] (Updated: 7 Jan 2018)

2017 AB Exports cases

AB Exports was a shell company used to transfer, as a bribe for the railway tender scam, 400 million (40 crore) benami property for a mere price of 400,000 to Lalu's 3 children Tejashwi Yadav, Ragini Yadav and Chanda Singh.[99] ED has attached this property and booked the 3 accused children of Lalu.[99] (Updated: 7 Jan 2018)

2017 Patna zoo soil scam

2017 Patna zoo soil scam is an allegation/case against Lalu Prasad Yadav and his sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav for the "gross irregularities" of selling soil from the construction of Tej Pratap's Saguna Mor mall basement. The bogus beautification scheme was for 90 lakh to Patna zoo without inviting any tenders when Tej Pratap was the minister of environment and forest in Bihar, a department that controls the zoo. The scam came to the light in April 2017, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Patna High Court in October 2017, court ordered the Bihar government to furnish the details of investigation, following which the case was handed over to Bihar Vigilance Investigation Bureau (VIB) department for the investigation under the Pollution Control Board Act, the Environment Protection Act and Wildlife Protection Act (1972) (update: 6 Jan 2018).[101][102]

The Bihar government said that official procedure was duly followed in the case and prima facie no evidence of irregularity has come into light in zoo soil deal. (Updated: 31 May 2020)[103]


Yadav was convicted in the controversial Fodder Scam, and was serving a term until 17 April 2021, when he was granted bail from the Jharkhand High Court in the corruption scandal.[4][104]


Corruption, nepotism and dynasticism

Yadav is one of the first noted politicians to lose parliamentary seat on being arrested in fodder scam as per Supreme Court decision banning convicted legislators to hold their posts.[105] During his tenure as Chief Minister, Bihar's law and order was at lowest,[106][107] kidnapping was on rise and private armies mushroomed.[108] He was also criticized by opposition in the Shilpi-Gautam Murder case and the death of his daughter Ragini Yadav's friend, Abhishek Mishra, in mysterious circumstances.[109][110]

Criticism on Yadavisation

Lalu Yadav's rule witnessed Yadav caste becoming assertive in the rural and urban landscape of Bihar, leading his opponents to coin the slogan of "Yadavisation" of Bihar's polity and administration. This fact was used by other political parties to dislodge his government on the charges of working for the benefit of a single caste group at the cost of various other backward communities. According to a report of Indian Human Development Survey (2011–12), Brahmins topped in average per capita income with 28,093, the other upper castes of Bihar which comprises Rajputs have an average per capita income of 20,655, closely followed by middle agrarian castes like Kushwahas and Kurmis earning 18,811 and 17,835 respectively as their average per capita income. In contrast, Yadavs' income is one of the lowest among OBCs at 12,314, which is slightly less than the rest of OBCs (12,617). Hence, despite the political mobilisation of backward castes in post mandal period, the upper-caste are still the highest income groups in Bihar. According to this report, the economic benefits of the Mandal politics could be seen as affecting only few backward castes of agrarian background leading to their upward mobilisation. The Yadavs hence transformed their assertiveness to the upward mobility in the politics only while the other "Backward Castes" gained momentum in the other fields, though still the upper-caste dominance was retained in upper echelon of bureaucracy.[111]


Lalu Prasad has written his autobiography named Gopalganj to Raisina Road.[112]


In media



See also


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Lok Sabha Preceded byRamshekhar Prasad Singh Member of Parliamentfor Chapra 1977–1980 Succeeded bySatya Deo Singh Preceded byRajiv Pratap Rudy Member of Parliamentfor Chapra 1989–1991 Succeeded byLal Babu Rai Preceded byRam Bahadur Singh Member of Parliamentfor Chapra 2004–2009 Succeeded byConstituency does not exist Preceded byConstituency does not exist Member of Parliamentfor Saran 2009–2013 Succeeded byRajiv Pratap Rudy Political offices Preceded byNitish Kumar Minister of Railways 25 May 2004 – 18 May 2009 Succeeded byMamata Banerjee Preceded byJagannath Mishra Chief Minister of Bihar 1990–1997 Succeeded byRabri Devi