Contemptuous of Janata Dal (U) national president Sharad Yadav's decision not to endorse the party's move to join hands with the BJP, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has said that the senior politician cannot even claim one of the MLAs, MLCs or Lok Sabha members from Bihar.
Yadav, who has the support of only two Rajya Sabha members, including veteran Kerala leader M.P. Veerendra Kumar, has said during his long innings in politics that he has taken on the might of bigger forces and joined the winning side.
For Yadav, political battles and political adjustments are part of a long career where he never built a mass base like colleagues in the Janata movement. Yet in the Janata Parivar's history, Yadav has been at the right time at the right moment. He has a legion of admirers who visit his Delhi home to listen to his philosophies and pet obsessions of how urbanization is ruining agriculture.
Saying he would not indulge in a slanging match immediately with Nitish,Yadav has hinted that he is confident that his decision to stay away from the NDA would prove to be correct, just like his controversial stances when the Janata family, first as Janata Party during 1977-88, and then as Janata Dal during 1988-1999 came together and split apart.
Yadav then went along with fellow socialists George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar to be part of the Samta Party, which joined hands with the BJP for over 15 years. Now, Yadav feels more at home in the anti-BJP camp, which has one-time-ally-turned-enemy Lalu Prasad, who is now likely to turn a friend.
Madhepura, a Yadav-dominated constituency has been his favorite as it elected him five times, even beating Lalu Yadav once. Lalu took revenge defeating Sharad Yadav in two elections afterward. Now, Sharad Yadav may become Lalu's favorite to win Madhepur in 2019 elections against the Nitish-BJPcombination.
Once George Fernandes had said Sharad Yadav was a balancing factor, as he could speak at ease to very strong leaders like Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, V.P. Singh, Biju Patnaik, Devi Lal, Ramakrishna Hegde, H.D. Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1974 at the age of 27 from Jabalpur, as a challenge to the popularity of Indira Gandhi and her Congress (I).
He was handpicked by Jayaprakash Narayan to fight the election when the JP movement against Indira was at its peak. With seven Lok Sabha wins and three terms in Rajya Sabha, he is now among the senior-most members of Parliament on the basis of their first electoral victory.
Yadav has said that he had decided early on that he shouldn't get involved in state politics, although he has fought and won elections in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. He admired the city of Delhi and the way political power operated there. It’s also the city where he first met his lady love Rekha, who is a doctor by profession.
Thus, he did not pose a challenge to either Lalu or Nitish, who claimed the mantle of Jayaprakash Narayan as Bihar has had these two chief ministers or their loyalists as chief ministers ever since 1990.
When Devi Lal was the deputy prime minister in the national front government, Yadav was minister for textiles and food processing. Once, Devi Lal sarcastically said that a person who could not afford good clothes had been made the minister for textiles. Yadav retorted by saying that it showed that a poor man was needed to handle the rich garment manufacturers and exporters, who were manipulating the government policy. Even Devi Lal nodded his head in appreciation to Yadav's fast response. His only other ministerial stint came under Atal Behari Vajpayee who entrusted him first with civil aviation, then with labor and finally with food and consumer affairs.
Since 2004, he has been a prominent opposition, both during the UPA and the NDA governments. One of Sharad Yadav’s ambitions had been to bring the Janata family together after the series of splits during the 1990s. While he knows that it might not be possible, he still believes that they will come together to form a BJP-free government in 2019. It’s a task that will keep him busy.