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On what basis exactly is Tejashwi Yadav asking for votes?

How did Tejashwi suddenly become the poster boy of hard work? Is this not an insult to everyone who works hard to achieve something in life?

Indian liberalism has a new icon and his name is Tejashwi Yadav. Within a matter of few weeks, the young man has become famous for everything from his legendary hard work, to his humility, his maturity and his deep understanding of people’s issues. This is interesting, because virtues such as these are generally accumulated over a lifetime. But in Tejashwi’s case, he seems to have acquired them almost overnight.

One question however remains unanswered. On what basis exactly is Tejashwi asking for votes?

As a citizen of India, Tejashwi has a right to ask questions — any questions to the Chief Minister of Bihar. But he is doing more than that. He is holding up his party as an alternative, surely he should explain on what basis he is asking for votes.

So what is that basis? What exactly is Tejashwi’s record?

Incidentally, the RJD does have a record. A record so horrifying that even his ardent cheerleaders in elite circles are shy to defend it. The notorious Jungle Raj and its legacy of crime and injustice. Can anyone look the voter in the eye and give one reason the 15 years of RJD rule were better than the 15 years that came after that? Quite deservedly, Lalu Yadav is currently a convict in a legendary scam of Rs 1000 crore.

So, is that the basis of asking for votes? It can’t be. Even Tejashwi himself is not asking for votes on that basis.

So they say that the sins of the father cannot be dumped on the son. Fine, let’s do that. His cheerleaders say they are not supporting him on the basis of Lalu’s 15 year governance record. But then, on what basis are they cheerleading him?

What distinguishes Tejashwi then from the crores of other young people in Bihar? Why him and not someone else? Because he is Lalu Yadav’s son, right? So we are supposed to both forget Lalu Yadav’s rule and vote for someone on the basis of being Lalu’s son? How does that make sense?

Even Tejashwi Yadav has a bit of executive experience. He has spent 18 months as Nitish Kumar’s deputy in Bihar. Did he accomplish something in those 18 months that stands out? If he did, why don’t his cheerleaders tell us what it is? Why won’t Tejashwi himself tell us if there is something?

One thing we do know about his tenure as Deputy CM. During that time, he was allotted a government bungalow. When the RJD ceased to be in government in 2017, you would have expected Tejashwi to give up his official accommodation. Not so with Tejashwi Yadav. He filed a number of legal challenges, until the Supreme Court decided the obvious in Feb 2019 and he had to leave. Is this the basis then on which he is asking for votes?

So on what basis did Tejashwi acquire his reputation for hard work and knowledge of people’s issues? Was he touring the state until these last few weeks? How did he come to be the leader of RJD? Did he build its cadre? Did he win a contest among leaders and workers of the RJD to become its de facto leader?

So what makes Tejashwi special? Being Lalu Yadav’s son and flying around in a helicopter for two weeks? This is someone who did not even work hard enough to pass the 10th grade, despite having all the privileges in the world.

How did Tejashwi suddenly become the poster boy of hard work? Is this not an insult to everyone who works hard to achieve something in life?

In the financial world, they always warn you that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The current advice coming out of Lutyens Delhi turns this conventional disclaimer on its head. If you think of your vote as an investment, they are telling you that past failure is actually a guarantee of future success. So invest away…

Do you want to own a successful business? Then, please invest in anyone whose father failed at business. Want to know who can be a successful engineer? Then, find someone whose father failed to become an engineer.

In short, that’s the collective wisdom of the Indian elite at this moment. It reminds me of this joke: a man is about to buy a house from a builder. He asks the builder if there is a danger of the house falling down.

Don’t worry, the builder assures him : my buildings have just a 50% chance of collapsing.

The buyer is alarmed. So the builder explains further: but 50% of all the houses I built have already fallen down, which means the house you will buy is safe.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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