Fanatically called the Messiah of Backwards, Lalu Prasad Yadav has been a big name in Bihar and National politics for over three decades now. Despite the long list of shortcomings of his tenure, he is lauded for his popular and populist measures to uplift the backward castes.
Prior to Lalu Prasad Yadav, the economic composition of the state of Bihar had a massive tilt towards the upper caste. Comprising of only 13.1 percent of the population, the upper caste controlled close to 51 percent of land in the state and also were the prime political force. After Lalu Prasad’s regime, the imbalance had improved exponentially.
He established the chain of charvaha schools which gave an opportunity for poor underprivileged children to get skilled. A significant amount of interest was shown in enhancing the representation of the backward community from all walks of life. Neglecting the rules related to backward caste reservation was made a cognizable offense. In large numbers, the backward caste was employed in government services. In order to do this, Lalu had to tweak the system of recruitment and made it favorable to his vote bank i.e. the backward community. In an attempt to raise their social ego, Lalu Prasad started actively participating in events and festivities of backward communities, especially those that were at loggerheads with the upper caste community.
One of the schemes promised by the government was the construction of homes for the tribal Dalit community of Musahars. Despite not fulfilling the promise and leaving homes under construction mid-way, the community of Musahars continued to vote for Lalu Prasad Yadav in the subsequent elections. When asked about the reason behind their loyalty, the community revealed that it is their way of paying him back for bringing back their lost ‘ijjat’. According to journalist Kalyani Shankar, Lalu Prasad created a feeling among the oppressed backward community that they are the rulers of the state.
When Lalu Prasad was ousted from the political games due to corruption and mismanagement, the state of Bihar had diversified. The backward community that only found mercy at their owners before, were in the center of government services and many other occupational sectors. Their economical situation and their social situation both raised to prominence. This also impacted Bihar politics which was earlier solely focused on the upper caste.