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An advisor and an advisor-to-be: The tale of two Bihar meetings of Tejashwi and Tej – The Indian Express

The Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar has been left red-faced as a row erupted over Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad’s younger son, holding an official meeting with his political advisor Sanjay Yadav in attendance, and his elder brother and environment, forest and climate change minister Tej Pratap Yadav having another meeting attended by their brother-in-law Shailesh Kumar.
As the pictures of these meetings held in Patna earlier this week went viral, the RJD drew charges of “outsourcing governance” to “furthering family interests”. The principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit out at Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, asking CM Nitish whether political aides and son-in-laws have been allowed by his government to attend officials meetings.
Shailesh Kumar
Shailesh Kumar, 49, is the husband of RJD Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti, the eldest daughter of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi. A computer engineer, Shailesh, who quit his job soon after getting married to Misa Bharti, has remained in the shadows of the RJD’s first family, which sees a role for him as an in-house advisor to mercurial Tej Pratap in matters of governance.
During the Mahagathbandhan 1.0 government, it was Lalu himself, then in much better health, who used to advise Tej, who was the health minister. The BJP had then questioned Lalu’s role as the “super health minister”.
A resident of Bihta, Shailesh lived at a railway colony at Khagaul on the outskirts of Patna, when he got married to Misa in 1999. Shailesh, who did his engineering from a Bangalore institution, worked with a multi-national company briefly. His father Rambabu Pathik was a bank officer. They have a two-storey house at Khagaul.
Shailesh could be often spotted at Lalu and Rabri’s 10, Circular Road residence in Patna. He shuttles between Patna and Delhi where Misa lives with their three children. Lalu would stay at Misa’s house when he visits Delhi.
After quitting his job, Shailesh set up his own company and took some government contracts for some time. As Misa is said to be close to Tej, Shailesh would see himself as the latter’s advisor.
However, Shailesh has had his share of problems too as he has been chargesheeted in a money laundering case along with his wife.
In July 2017, a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted raids in connection with its probe into the IRCTC scam case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out searches at the premises of Misa and Shailesh and registered a money laundering case against their company, Mishail Packers and Printers. The ED has since attached a farmhouse belonging to Misa in Delhi and chargesheeted the couple. The trial in the case has begun.
Sanjay Yadav
A resident of Haryana, Sanjay Yadav, 39, has been Tejashwi’s political advisor and proverbial “friend, philosopher and guide”. He has been a key aide of Tejashwi since 2012. His deep interest in socialist politics exposed Tejashwi to many books on the subject.
Tejashwi, who was a cricketer, had decided to join active politics in 2012. It was then that Sanjay, an MBA with a Master’s degree in computer science, was introduced to Tejashwi by a common friend. Sanjay was also close to Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav, who had then just become Uttar Pradesh CM.
As they established close ties, Tejashwi and Sanjay would watch speeches of the country’s top leaders — including those of Atal Behari Vajpayee, George Fernandes, Kanshi Ram, Mayawati, Chandra Shekhar and VP Singh — to understand and learn the art and nuances of good speeches. Sanjay would spend four-five hours with Tejashwi at Lalu’s then Tughlaq Road residence in Delhi every day. Sanjay was asked to help with the makeover of the RJD’s image. Tejashwi and Sanjay started their work on the RJD’s website and set up its IT cell to handle the social media accounts of the party and its top leaders.
Unlike Bhola Yadav, who was drafted in by Lalu as his close aide for handling practical matters, Sanjay has always been Tejashwi’s intellectual mentor besides being his political strategist.
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