Lalu Prasad Yadav is the President of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He served as the chief minister of Bihar twice — from 1990 to 1995 and 1995 to 1997. He was the Minister of Railways in the first term of the United Progressive Alliance government under Manmohan Singh.
Lalu Prasad Yadav was one of the young leaders who rose to prominence during the Emergency years. He was a trusted lieutenant of Jayaprakash Narayan. In 1977, he was elected to the Lok Sabha, at the age of 29. He had won from Bihar's Chhapra constituency on a Janata Dal ticket. From 1980 to 1989, he served two consecutive terms as a Member in the Legislative Assembly of Bihar.
In 1990, he became the chief minister of Bihar, riding on his popularity among Yadavs and Muslims. He secured another term after the elections of 1995 but had to step down as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) issued an arrest warrant against him in the infamous fodder scam. Fearing it might mean his ouster from power forever, he made his wife Rabri Devi the chief minister. Subsequently, he split from the Janata Dal and formed his own political party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
In the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, he won from Madhepura, but lost in the 1999 elections to Sharad Yadav. In the 2000 Bihar Assembly elections, he won a seat but remained in the Opposition.
Lalu Prasad's RJD could not come to power in Bihar despite a strong vote bank. Nitish Kumar led the Janata Dal (United) to victory in the state elections by stitching an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, Lalu Prasad Yadav fashioned himself as a national leader and went on to win Lok Sabha elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014. Following his conviction in the fodder scam case in 2013, he was barred from contesting elections for six years. In the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, RJD made a major comeback by winning the most number of seats among alliance partners of the 'mahagathbandhan'.
Lalu Prasad Yadav might be behind the bars but his conviction might already have been priced in during the previous elections. His sons have said that the electorate will see his imprisonment as a move to suppress the voice of the Yadavs, a powerful caste clan in Bihar's electoral mathematics. It will be interesting to watch if the much-spoken-about legacy of the RJD patriarch can speak for itself and attract votes in Lok Sabha Elections 2019.