By appointing Renu Devi as a deputy chief minister of Bihar, Tarkishore Prasad being the other, the BJP seems to have struck a caste balance between the Baniya community to which Prasad belongs, considered solid supporters of the saffron party, and the Extremely Backward Classes (EBC)— Renu Devi belongs to the Nonia community which is classified as EBC— which have so far stood closely with Nitish Kumar.
The appointment of Renu Devi, who has a long history of heading the women’s wing in her party organisation at the state and national level, could also be seen as a reward for the women voters who gave a decisive edge to the NDA in the Bihar polls.
Both the deputy chief ministers also have in common a long association with right-wing groups and politics. While Prasad was part of the RSS’s students’ wing, the ABVP, Renu Devi was part of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the VHP.
Renu Devi was born in November 1959 and following her schooling joined the RSS, working in various capacities mostly in the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh region. In 1988 she was made a district coordinator of the Durga Vahini.
The following year she was appointed the BJP women’s wing’s chief in the Champaran region. Rising quickly through her party’s ranks, she became the chief of the women’s wing of her party’s Bihar unit. In 2014, she was made the party’s vice-president, and she was working in that position till recently. Now she has been appointed deputy leader of BJP’s legislature party in Bihar.
Renu Devi fought her first election on a BJP ticket in 1995 from the Nautan assembly constituency. Though she lost by a slim margin, Renu Devi fought from Bettiah again on her party’s ticket in 2000 and this time won by a margin of 10,000 votes. In 2007 she was appointed Bihar’s minister of culture. She has held on to the Bettiah seat ever since, except for 2015 when she lost again by a slim margin of 2,000 votes. Renu Devi bounced back in these polls, again winning the constituency by a margin of over 18,000 votes.