It is tough to write off Lalu from politics

It is tough to write off Lalu from politics

In July 1997, when Lalu Prasad was arrested for the first time in fodder scam, there was total chaos and mayhem on the streets of Bihar.

Lalu's men hit the roads and resorted to violence which forced the then CBI joint director U N Biswas to seek Army's help to arrest a person who by then had resigned as the chief minister and anointed his wife Rabri Devi to the top post.

Twenty years down the line, when Lalu was arrested once again on 23 December in one of the six on-going fodder scam cases against him, there is complete peace and harmony in Bihar but there is also deep anger and anguish amongst his supporters who have unflinching faith in the man who gave voice to the oppressed in the post-Mandal era.

"I am getting feedback from across the state that people have become more sympathetic towards Lalu. And such sympathisers are not only Yadavs and  Muslims but also other backward class (OBCs) and Dalits.

Suddenly people have started viewing this judgement on caste lines, particularly after former chief minister  Dr  Jagannath Mishra was acquitted while Lalu was jailed in the same case," RJD vice-president and former Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwary told DH.

Tiwary opined that there was a strong reaction simmering within the society following the foul language used by leaders like Nitish Kumar, Sushil Modi and Ram Vilas Paswan against Lalu after the latter was incarcerated on Saturday. "Those who are writing Lalu's political obituary are living in a fool's paradise. Lalu has emerged stronger after every setback," argued Tiwary.

To buttress his point, the veteran Socialist, who has worked closely with Nitish as well as Lalu, said, "People had written off Lalu when he was jailed in September 2013. But the RJD emerged as the single largest party in the 2015 Assembly election.

His supporters are simply not ready to buy the theory that he could be one of the conspirators in the embezzlement of a relatively small amount (Rs 90 lakh Deogarh treasury case)." Another social scientist Ajay Kumar concurred and argued that Lalu's support base would remain intact. "Rather it will swell further in the days to come, as most of the people view the judgement on caste lines. Those journalists who are willing to write off Lalu will be sadly mistaken" he averred.

Meanwhile, the jail administration in Ranchi allowed a few close aides of Lalu to meet the RJD chief in Birsa Munda Jail on Monday. "Lalu ji is fine. He met us after his pooja (prayers)," said Jharkhand RJD president and former minister Annapoorna Devi.

 

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