For a person who wished to become Prime Minister of the country, conviction in a corruption case would not have been much a difference to his career.
For a person who wished to become Prime Minister of the country, conviction in a corruption case would not have been much a difference to his career. But that was the actual era of ‘Lalu Raj’. Now, the time has changed. And it has changed the whole world of seasoned politician Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Once chief minister of Bihar for 20 years – including his wife Rabri Devi’s five year long chief ministership in the state – now Lalu Prasad Yadav is isolated. He becomes the first politician to bear the wrath of Supreme Court’s verdict on immediate barring of MPS, MLAs and MLCs from contesting election in case of conviction in any case.
Not only that he become a collateral damage in Congress’ own point gaining scheme which wanted to project its vice president and ‘would-be’ prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi.
The big fall of Lalu Yadav, though, is an appropriate end to his roller-coaster career.
The rise of Lalu Yadav in Bihar’s political circuits was more of an amusement than surprise. He was a student leader, a part of the JP Movement, in mid 1970s. His ascendance remained oblivion until he used the baffled media to his advantage. His rustic style, choice of idioms and humour ensured that he remained in the lime light whatever the situations around him become.
This clever one-line deliverer was called a buffoon in the garb of politician, that too a shrewd one. His mannerism ensured in his own subtle countryside way that the bureaucracy remained under his tight grip. The apt instance can be taken from Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s article, where he writes that Lalu used to call the chief secretary of the state as ‘bade babu’ which means head clerk.
Lalu publicly showed his love for his ‘khatals’ (cow shed) and the colourful festival of Holi. This was his way of telling people that he is a leader of the masses. It was his way of mingling with his supporters and telling that he was only one of them.
He may be an old school politician, but his openness was very modern. He never hid that fact that Rabri Devi was just a patch for his political limitations. In fact he used to chuckle on the fact that Rabri was performing her wife’s duty by listening to husband Lalu and doing exactly what he wanted like a good Indian wife. Thakurta says that the height of his whacky sense of humour can be seen in the way he named his eldest daughter Misa. It was just because she was born at the time when he was behind bars during emergency which was invoked in the country by Indira Gandhi misusing the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Nonetheless, his deep political knowledge ensured his sustenance in Bihar for 20 long years. Not only that, he always managed to stay afloat amidst the hostilities, opposition and friendliness of other politicians in the state. The overnight change of hands of the government and the cornering of former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra, who is also convicted in the case, is an ample evidence of his skills.
The pomp and show with which he led his life, the patronising attitude with which he managed the goons and criminals of the state (read Mohammad Sahabuddin) and the way with which he ran the culture of rustic yet criminalised politics in the state were low points of his career.
Yet, he managed to enter the UPA as rail minister at a time when he was thrown from his home turf by Nitish Kumar. And he fared well there too.
It was only when Rahul Gandhi’s visibility in scene increased, his own light started to fade more. The old school, as is apparent, is unacceptable to the so called modern school. It is actually sad to see that the whole charade that Rahul Gandhi created and carried out wonderfully was actually meant to close Lalu Yadav’s chapter in the politics of India.
The wave in Bihar currently was supposedly blowing in Lalu’s favour. At least it was being taken from the assembly by poll results of Maharajganj. His ousting by Rahul is a further strengthening of Nitish Kumar – the development man and a personal choice of Rahul Gandhi.
With RJD becoming leaderless, expected is an alliance between Congress and JD(U) at the centre. Lalu’s son for sure is there in the picture, one of them hinting at a big political conspiracy another announcing appeal in higher court. But they are not Lalu and possibly, no one will be.