Lalu Prasad Yadav, also spelled Laloo, is an Indian politician and government official who created the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD; National People’s) party in Bihar, East India, in 1997 and thereafter served as the party’s long-serving Acting President. He is also Bihar’s former Prime Minister (Government Head) (1990-97).
Lalu was born into an impoverished Yadav peasant family in a hamlet in Bihar’s northeastern state. Patna University was where he earned his bachelor’s and law degrees. He began his political career while still in college. Jaya Prakash Narayan, a socialist activist and theorist, mentored him as a student leader.
Yadav joined Narayan’s rallies against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s policies in the early and mid-1970s. During a period of emergency established by Gandhi in 1975, he was arrested and imprisoned until 1977.
Yadav was elected to the Lok Sabha (lower chamber of the Indian Parliament) after his release as a member of the newly founded Janata (People’s Party) (JP), which was hostile to Gandhi’s administration. He was elected to the Bihar Legislative Assembly.
By then, Yadav had developed a campaign platform to mobilize low-caste Hindu and Muslim minorities, making him a champion of social justice. The support of both communities greatly contributed to his electoral success. In 1990, he returned to national politics, winning a parliamentary seat and becoming Prime Minister of Bihar. He retained his parliamentary seat in the 1995 election, beginning his second term as chief minister.
Yadav’s political career, however, was in jeopardy after allegations that he and a number of other top Bihar bureaucrats and politicians began in 1996 in an embezzlement scandal (often known as a fodder scam) involving alleged crimes from State funds are used to purchase animal feed. Yadav was forced to resign as prime minister in July 1997, but he named his wife, Rabri Devi, as his successor, who was widely expected to remain in charge of state administration. In December 2006, Yadav was cleared of the original corruption charges.
Also in July 1997, after resigning as Prime Minister, he broke with JD to create Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which he chairs. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and won a seat in the Rajya Sabha (Upper Chamber of Parliament) in 2002. During this time, he ran for and won a seat in the Bihar state parliament in 2000. The RJD forms a coalition government with Congress and other parties, with Rabri Devi again as prime minister.