PATNA: Lalu Prasad Yadav has nine children. Three of them have taken up the familiy vocation, politics. One, Tejashwi Yadav, is the deputy chief minister of Bihar. The eldest, Tej Pratap Yadav, rather against the rules of primogeniture, is way down in the Bihar government pecking order, being only the health minister. A third, Misa Bharti, named after the infamous Emergency-era law of detention, is an MP.
These, at last count, are those chosen by the Rashtriya Janata Dal strongman to follow him in his vocation. Six others wait in the wings, married or betrothed into political families, to be spruced up for political debuts at short notice.
But lately, the passage has not been smooth for the Lalu children. The above-named three are all fighting off probing questions from the country's premier investigative agencies about deeds done in their name by the father when he was in office in New Delhi and in Patna.
Lalu Prasad himself, convicted in one of the many fodder scam cases, is barred from holding electoral office, so his is a political life lived vicariously. And the children are living the life he lived, courting power, and dodging inquiry. Like Lalu's own political career, his children are experiencing the roughs and tumbles of a political career in the heartland of India. Each of the three now in the investigative glare of the CBI and the ED, Tejashwi, Tej Pratap and Misa Bharti, have colourful profiles -- if not as colourful as Lalu Prasad himself
The eldest of Lalu and Rabri Devi’s nine children, the 43-year-old Misa Bharti is currently an RJD Rajya Sabha MP. She's a doctor who graduated from the Patna Medical College.But she has never practised.
She contested the Lok Sabha polls for the first time in 2014 on an RJD ticket from Pataliputra constituency, causing Lalu’s longtime trusted aide and MP Ram Kripal Yadav to defect to the BJP and contest against her. She lost to Ram Kripal and was then sent to the Rajya Sabha.
In the Upper House, her attendance is 54 per cent but debate participation has been nil. The questions she has asked have been quite eclectic, ranging from the rewriting of Indian history to the safety of women on trains and whether it has come to the notice of the government that many important book stores are closing down in Delhi.
Misa is married to Shailesh Kumar who was once a software engineer employed by Infosys. They have two daughters.
The couple are currently being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for amassing a number of benami properties. The latest bout of trouble for Misa Bharti began after the arrest by ED of a chartered accountant associated with a company linked to her in connection with alleged money-laundering.
As a result, the Income-Tax Department raided 22 locations in Delhi-NCR linked to her and her husband. Several immovable assets such as land and buildings in Delhi NCR and Patna have been attached by the department.
Both Misa Bharti and her husband have been interrogated once in this connection. ED officials on Saturday raided three farmhouses in Delhi NCR and seized “incriminating” documents and electronic devices. On Tuesday, Misa presented herself to a grilling by ED.
He is the younger of Lalu Prasad's two sons. He is only 28 years old and a first-time RJD legislator but it was he the family patriarch chose for the deputy chief minister's post as part of the deal with Nitish Kumar. It is Tejashwi who is in the eye of a storm, with the opposition baying for his resignation after he was named in an FIR by the CBI on Thursday in a railway hotel tender scam.
Tejashwi was interrogated by CBI sleuths for over three hours during a ten-hour search of Lalu Prasad's residence in Patna last Friday. The young deputy chief minister is currently under tremendous pressure to step down.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, who takes pride on his government’s zero-tolerance policy for corruption, has been asked by the BJP to sack Tejashwi if the latter does not resign. But RJD legislators, MPs and office-bearers decided on Monday to stand firm behind Tejashwi.
Tejashwi Yadav is a director of several companies that are currently being investigated for acquiring prime land allegedly through the benami route.
Seen by many as the RJD chief’s heir apparent, he quit his studies in class IX and then sought to make a career as a cricketer. His three-year stint in the Indian Premier League as a player for the Delhi Daredevils and then in the Jharkhand Ranji Trophy team were rather lacklustre.
He contested the Assembly polls for the first time in 2015 from Raghoupur and won. As deputy chief minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, Tejashwi’s stint has been largely free from controversy. Many in RJD want the soft-spoken and articulate Tejashwi to take over as chief minister in the event that Nitish Kumar is projected as prime ministerial candidate of a possible alliance of non-BJP parties in 2019.
He remains popular among RJD’s youth supporters. Tejaswi is not married, and his parents are looking for a bride for him.
Tej Pratap Yadav
The elder son of the RJD chief is currently the minister of health, minor water resources, environment and forests. The 29-year-old Tej Pratap's name does not figure in the FIR registered by CBI in the railway hotel tender scam. But he was interrogated by CBI sleuths during the search of the Lalu residence Friday.
Tej Pratap, also a first-time MLA, failed to complete his studies beyond Intermediate. He is the director of a few companies that are being probed for illegally acquiring prime land.
Before entering politics by contesting the 2015 Assembly polls, he owned an automobile showroom in Aurangabad. He is one-third owner of a two-acre plot of land on the outskirts of Patna where Bihar’s largest mall is currently under construction. This is the plot of land BJP has accused Lalu Prasad of getting in a quid-pro-quo deal from a company that got two railway hotels for maintenance on a 15-year lease in 2006.
Tej Pratap also owns a petrol pump in Patna whose licence was recently terminated because he allegedly provided wrong information about his land ownership in 2012.
The BJP has also accused Tej Pratap of concealing his ownership of a Rs 15-crore plot of land in Aurangabad in his election affidavit and annual assets declaration. The plot was bought for Rs 53.34 lakh in 2010 when he was barely 20.
Tej Pratap remains a low-profile and shy politician but reportedly has a quick temper. An RJD leader accused him of slapping him last month, a charge he later retracted.
Tej Pratap is also known for getting dressed as Lord Krishna, complete with a flute, and tweeting these pictures. Considered more colourful than Tejashwi, he is the most religious among Lalu and Rabri’s nine children and likes visiting religious places across the country. Tej Pratap remains a bachelor, and his mother recently said she wants a homely wife for him.
And then the other six
* Rohini Devi, daughter, married in May 2002 to Rao Samaresh Singh, a US-based computer engineer
* Chanda Singh, daughter, married to Vikram Singh a pilot with Indian Airlines
* Ragini Yadav, daughter, married to Rahul Yadav, son of SP MLA Jitendra Yadav of Ghaziabad
* Hema Yadav, daughter, married to Vineet Yadav, scion of a political family
* Dhannu (Anushka Rao), daughter, married to Chiranjeev Rao, son of Rao Ajay Singh Yadav of Congress
* Rajlaxmi Singh, daughter, married to Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, MP from Mainpuri and grand-nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav