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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

When Tejashwi Yadav wed Rachel Godinho: The knots of a Bihar wedding

The wedding marked the first time one of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi's children had married outside caste or religion. All of Tejashwi's seven sisters got married to fellow Yadavs.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: December 28, 2021 2:19:34 pm
Tejashwi Yadav, his wife Rachel Godinho in Patna. (PTI file)

IT’S THE “hush-hush” wedding that no one can stop talking about in Bihar. Twenty days after Tejashwi Yadav tied the knot with his school sweetheart Rachel Godinho — a.k.a. Rajshree — the marriage is the message in the state’s caste-driven politics. And as his rivals read between the lines, the young RJD leader’s honeymoon may have just got extended.

The speculation over the inter-caste, inter-religious, marriage started soon after photos of the ceremony first trickled out. Few knew about the wedding, despite it being hosted in a farmhouse in Delhi, where secrets like these have very short lives, or importantly much about the bride. RJD leaders admitted they were themselves clueless, while the party handle was late tweeting its blessings to the couple. The official word was that the function was hurriedly organised due to RJD supremo and Tejashwi’s father Lalu Prasad’s failing health.

The wedding marked the first time one of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi’s children had married outside caste or religion. All of Tejashwi’s seven sisters got married to fellow Yadavs.

LJP (Ram Vilas) president Chirag Paswan, Tejashwi’s direct rival in age, ambition, and ancestry, said that there was “no need to have been so secretive about the marriage”. And, that he would himself “go to town” when he got married.

The political leader got married in Delhi. (Photo: Twitter/@RohiniAcharya2)

JD(U) leaders were more circumspect, though not Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who, while extending his wishes to the couple, took a subtle dig saying he had got to know of the wedding “from the media”.

JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar called it “a personal matter of Tejashwi”. “Such things should not be seen from the prism of politics.”

JD(U) ally BJP, not a fan of mincing words, largely refrained from commenting till MLC and Panchayat Raj Minister Samrat Choudhary broke his silence over this weekend. With the RJD insistent that the Centre reveal the data on caste census, Choudhary said: “Tejashwi should no longer demand a caste census as he married a girl outside his caste and religion… Will Tejashwi now tell us which community he belongs to, that of his parents or his wife?”

Choudhary then dragged in the marriage of Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, a friend of the RJD and a fellow proponent of the caste census. Akhilesh’s wife Dimple is a Thakur. “Since the ‘princes’ of both UP and Bihar have married out of their caste, they should stop worrying about the caste census,” he said.

Lately, Tejashwi has not just broken his silence on the wedding, but also taken to ensuring that Godinho is by his side as he makes public appearances and meets RJD leaders and party workers. “I believe in an inclusive society. When my parents asked if I have a girl in mind to get married, I said ‘yes’. This is how I got married,” he said recently.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav with his wife Rachel Godinho arrives at Jai Prakash Narayan airport, in Patna. (PTI Photo)

Nevertheless, Godinho is unfailingly presented as Rajshree Yadav at these appearances and meetings, sporting a sari, sindoor and wedding bangles. Word has been put out that she is learning to speak in a Bihari accent.

A Goan Christian, Godinho worked briefly for Barclays Bank in London after graduation. The family belongs to Rewari in Haryana and her father was a principal in a Chandigarh school and now lives in Delhi. Godinho and Tejashwi were together at DPS, R K Puram, and stayed in touch after leaving school.

In a conversation with reporters last week, Godinho said: “I find Tejashwi intelligent. He is an intellectual.” Asked by a reporter, she said she had no idea Tejashwi would become such a big politician at such a young age when they were in school together.

Mother-in-law Rabri Devi is also by their side at these public appearances. This is after her brother Aniruddh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav slammed Lalu over the “clandestine” marriage, and took a swipe at Tejashwi’s elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav’s failed marriage.

Their relationship might be strained but Tej Pratap quickly rose to Tejashwi’s defence, warning Sadhu to “keep quiet”.

Senior RJD leaders like Shivanand Tewari have defended Tejashwi, calling the marriage a “personal matter”. RJD national spokesperson Subodh Mehta told The Indian Express: “Tejashwiji has already made his stand very clear on his marriage. He echoes this sentiment of inclusivity when he says the RJD is a party of A to Z. He has a vision for the young of Bihar.”

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