When Yogendra Yadav announced his decision to enter politics with the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012, there were many who were stunned by his transition from political analyst to politician. But, the seeds of the move are to be found many years back. In 1993, as a Professor of Political Science at Punjab University, Yadav has spoken of the critical juncture in his life, when desperate for a change, he decided to go back to his village in Haryana to pursue political and social work much against the advice of his well-wishers. But, fate intervened and he was invited to give a talk at the CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies), which then turned into an offer to join and kept him away from what seems to be his calling, until now, when he has finally returned to his dream of pursuing social and political work, under the umbrella of a party that seeks to combine the two.
A self-made academic, when Yadav was appointed by the CSDS where he is now a Senior Fellow, it was without having a “PhD, a book, a foreign degree, a stint abroad or even an academic godfather”, he says. The self-effacing honesty combined with his sharp political analysis and psephological skills have made Yadav, 50, one of the most credible public faces. In 2010, he was appointed to the National Advisory Committee for the implementation of the Right to Education Act. He is the co-author of two books, State of Democracy in South Asia and Crafting State Nations: India and other Multinational Democracies, and the founder of Lokniti, an all-India collective of scholars of Indian politics. He has called himself the “critical insider” in the anti-corruption movement and its resultant political outfit, someone who believes in the cause but is not blinded by it. The cause, as he defines it, is the transformation of people’s movements into political alternatives. On Yadav rests the burden of being the alternative politician for the Indian middle classes.