As the curtain comes down on the Bihar assembly election of 2020, which the Janata-Dal-United-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance won by a very slender margin, the surprise winner at the hustings is Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, who turned 31 on Monday, November 9.
Fighting battle-hardened political veterans more than twice his age -- the BJP's Narendra Damodardas Modi, the JD-U's Nitish Kumar, the BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi among others -- Tejashwi held his own and ensured that the RJD won the most number of seats in Bihar, ahead of the BJP.
Tejashwi may have narrowly lost the war, but he will be a formidable opponent in electoral battles to come.
The 2020 experience will also teach him to choose his allies carefully -- alloting 70 seats to the Congress was an error of political judgment since Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's party dragged down the Mahagathbandhan with its pathetic performance.
The Left parties -- also part of the MB -- had a far better strike rate than the Congress, winning 16 of the 29 seats it contested.
The two-man BJP politburo, relieved that they did not lose another state election, will hereon monitor Tejashwi's political progress. The young leader shouldn't be surprised if the regime's friendly agencies come calling in a few weeks's time.
But Tejashwi is his father's son, so it is unlikely he will be silenced into submission like some mighty politicians next door.
Dominic Xavier offers his take on Bihar 2020.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com