Style scan: Tej Pratap Yadav’s New Year costume


Style scan: Tej Pratap Yadav’s New Year costume

It is the Yadav season in Indian politics. Next door to Uttar Pradesh, where chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is at war with his kith and kin, in Bihar, the state’s health minister, young Tej Pratap Yadav, dressed up to look like Lord Krishna on the first day of the New Year.

Flute in hand, he sported a dhoti-kurta, a blue zipper jacket, a thick grey shawl and a red turban with a peacock feather. A Krishna devotee, the elder son of Rashtriya Janata Dal politician Lalu Yadav was photographed playing the flute before an audience of cows in the official bungalow allotted to his mother Rabri, a former chief minister of the state.

His costume outing was well outside the formula of New Year clothes for most young men from the Hindi belt— bicep-baring T-shirts, tight jeans cinched with a large buckled belt, faux leather jackets and pointy shoes. Or, for that matter, for most politicians, who opt for ethnic attire.

Tej Pratap’s turban with a peacock feather, gifted to him by a Krishna follower in Vrindavan during one of his visits (or so he told reporters), spoke loudly as an accessory. Even more so perhaps because the young minister chose to play the flute too. He may have borrowed the idea from the mythological narrative around the cosmic herder Lord Krishna, as he claimed, but who will believe it was just to entertain the cows?

When you look at assorted images of Tej Pratap on the Internet or in newspaper archives, an unplanned detour that proves to be revelatory, there is enough indication that he always errs on the side of the desi look. A lanky young man with a stubble, most images show him dressed in white kurta-pyjamas with coloured waistcoats (bundis). His sticky hair, very Deepak Dobriyal in Omkara, needs more “product” to get a “body”, to use the sales-pitch jargon of city salons. Hands folded in neta style, traces of badland swagger kept at bay, red or white teekas on his forehead, the kind people sport after a temple visit or a puja, Tej Pratap tries hard to look desi and devout.

But when you dig for reports about him, most talk of his failure to complete undergraduate studies, his mispronunciation of certain Hindi words during the oath-taking in 2015 as a Bihar cabinet minister. And his alleged brushes with the law.

Tej Pratap’s Krishna-esque outing, especially on a day when news photographers mill around netas, was amusing but perhaps not entirely incidental. For one, the young minister, who describes himself as a descendant of Lord Krishna, clearly recognizes a photo-op and knows how to give it a tweak towards the idiosyncratic in the visually loaded age of social media. For, while other leaders came wearing predictable kurta-pyjamas to meet and greet his father, it was the son who trended for 2 minutes.

Not only that, should Tej Pratap float a party in the future away from his Yadav family, the choice of his probable party symbols is out there. The toss may be between a cow, a flute and a peacock feather.