Patna: Tejaswi Yadav, Bihar's new 26-year-old deputy chief minister, took charge today beginning his new innings from the road construction department, one of three important portfolios he has been assigned in the Nitish Kumar government.
It was a statement of intent. "We want a modern state. The issues of infrastructure dominate my departments. We want road connectivity to go to the last mile. We will accelerate the process of road construction. I want to review ongoing projects and set new targets," said Tejaswi, who will also be minister of Backward Classes Welfare department.
The new Deputy CM also promised, "The public has given us a big mandate...I assure them that we will work with honesty and I want to instruct my officials that there will be a big focus on honesty; corruption will not be tolerated at all."
Tejaswi Yadav is the son of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav, whose conviction in a corruption case has meant that he cannot contest elections. Ever since portfolios were announced for the new Nitish Kumar team in Bihar, skeptics and critics have ambushed Tejaswi, whose only claim to the big posts he has earned is his famous last name.
They see more irony in the portfolios he has been assigned and have assessed it as a public relations disaster for the government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The years when Tejaswi's parents Lalu and mother Rabri Devi were chief ministers of Bihar, are particularly remembered for the pathetic condition of roads in the state.
When Nitish Kumar took over 10 year ago, roads, especially those maintained by the state, became a crucial link to his governance agenda, winning praise for him.
Tejaswi's appointment, and that of his brother Tej Pratap as minister of Health, Minor Irrigation, and Environment and Forests, tells the story of how well Lalu Yadav's RJD has done in the Bihar elections - it is the single largest party with 80 of the state's 243 seats in the assembly and in the ruling coalition. Both Tejaswi and Tej Patap are first time lawmakers.
Tejaswi has tried to counter the criticism thrown at him by asking people "not to judge a book by its cover." He has also pegged his appointment as "trust shown in youth".