Is Tejashwi Yadav The Next Chief Minister Of Bihar?

The resignation of Bihar’s Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma has led to a whole new controversy as it suggests that Nitish Kumar cannot hide behind “Mr. Clean” image anymore. It is clear that Kumar may have made certain compromises with his political ideology and his image in order to save his chief ministerial post. This has led to an entirely new debate in Bihar’s politics. Undoubtedly, Kumar’s image as a trusted CM has diminished. For the last few months, ever since the wedding ceremony of RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s elder sonTej Pratap Yadav took place, the politics of Bihar has taken a new turn. The wedding witnessed a huge gathering of politicians including the Governor Satyapal Malik, CM Nitish Kumar, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and other prominent politicians of Bihar.

It was reported and confirmed by a few loyal associates of CM Nitish Kumar that a meeting between a close aide of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav took place in Mumbai last month. There are rumors in the political corridors of Bihar that the current NDA Government may split anytime soon and Nitish Kumar may get back to the Grand Alliance. It is alleged that the allies of Bhartiya Janata Party, namely – Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Lok Janshakti Party may leave NDA. on the issue of seat sharing in the upcoming General Elections. In July 2017, in a high voltage drama, Nitish Kumar broke off the pre-poll alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal and joined hands with BJP to form a government in Bihar on the grounds of his “Antaratma ki awaj” (conscience). The issue led to a split in JD(U) and former Party President Sharad Yadav resigned and formed a new party after the alliance broke up. And now,nearly a year later, Nitish is trying his best to get back into the Grand Alliance.

While the Indian National Congress has left the decision of letting JD(U) join the Grand Alliance again to Tejashwi Yadav, somesources say that Lalu is already planning to take Nitish back in his team. However, Tejashwi has clearly spoken up several times in this regard saying that he is not willing to give his uncle Nitish another chance and senior leaders of the party have supported Tejashwi’s view. Since the Grand Alliance had split, RJD has emerged as an undisputed winner in all the by-elections held in Bihar in the last one year. These circumstances have led to a situation where there is an urgent need for mid-term polls in Bihar. If the mid-term polls are held, RJD being the single largest party has the highest chance of forming a government.

Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

Amidst of all these political beacons ringing, Tejashwi has emerged as a youth icon and a game-changer in the politics of Bihar. A pre-poll survey that was just released by Spick Media Network predicts that the RJD-Congress alliance will win 29 of Bihar’s 40 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Tejashwi Yadav joined politics in 2014 when he officially campaigned for RJD in the last general elections. Later on, after the Grand Alliance government came to power in Bihar in 2016, he was sworn in as the Deputy CM of the state in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet. However, Tejashwi’s political capital can be largely credited to Nitish Kumar’s betrayal of the Grand Alliance. Interestingly, Nitish’s political capital is also a result of Lalu Yadav’s infamous image that had formed in the late 1990s.

Notably, Tejashwi’s role as a Deputy CM was not as effective as is his current role as the Leader of the Opposition. It cannot be denied that under the young and dynamic leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, RJD. has managed to win almost all the seats in the by-elections (whether it was a State Legislative Assembly or a Parliament seat). In last few months, Tejashwi has tried to build up his image as the heir scion of RJD at the national front as he has been involved in meetings with Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, and Hardik Patel. Very recently, he was seen sharing dais with BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha and former BJP member Yashwant Sinha. Also, on Saturday, August 4, 2018, Tejashwi successfully managed to call and unite all the opposition parties on to one stage in the candle march and protest against the Muzzafarpur shelter home rape case, that was held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

Going by his efforts to compete with Nitish in the 2019 General Elections and the 2020Assembly Elections, Tejashwi may find himself as the officially authorized CM candidate of the Grand Alliance. If that does happen, it will not be an easy road to traverse for Tejashwi, as Nitish Kumar will leave no stone unturned to save his chair as he is famous (read infamous) for doing so. Even if BJP and JD(U) contest elections independently, there will be a clear-cut tussle between Tejashwi and Nitish as there hasn’t been a leader as popular as Tejashwi and Nitish in Bihar BJP. Moreover, a large share of votes in Bihar are from the Muslim-Yadav community who are considered the vote bank of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD. Further, even the forward castes and the feudal communities are not happy with the NDA in Bihar, especially after the SC/ST Act controversy.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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