Poll scene dull and listless without India’s most colourful politician Lalu Prasad
RJD president Lalu Prasad is currently in jail in multi-million dollar fodder scam
PATNA: ‘Jab tak rahega samose mein aaloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu [Lalu will stay in Bihar politics as long as samosas have potatoes inside them],’ was how RJD chief Lalu Prasad had repeatedly used to speak of his relevance in Indian politics during every election.
Well, he had not missed any elections since he entered the Indian political scene in 1977, getting elected to the 6th Lok Sabha at the age of 29.
Since then, he continued dominating the elections in one way or the other — sometimes contesting elections himself and or campaigning for his party candidates or allies.
This is for the first time in 42 years that the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief — famous for his colourful quotes and gift of the gab — is missing from the poll scene.
The reason being him serving jail terms in three separate fodder scam cases, with the court refusing to grant him bail despite his repeated pleas.
Even India’s top court rejected his pleas to grant bail on health grounds, leaving him caged within the four walls at this crucial time.
However, this has left the Bihar poll scene dull and listless. The colourful quotes of Prasad, which would once tickle bones of the masses and compel them to attend his rallies, ignoring hot and humid weather are totally missing.
“My own cat dares to mew at me” and “He is the kind man who keeps peeping inside the homes to see the kind of food cooking there and switch his political loyalties,” were some of his remarks that would leave the masses in splits.
Yet another quote that became quite popular was his explanation about Electronic Voting Machines to the illiterate masses: “This is a harmonium-like instrument where you will find my party symbols. When you press the voting button, it will say ‘peeen’ [a long beep sound] that means your vote is registered”.
His other popular remark was his suggestion, cautioning the masses against indulging in communal tension.
“Who will ring the bells in the temples or offer azaan in mosques if there are no human beings. I won’t allow communal riots to take place whether I stay in power or not.”
He would also say how the democratic process has allowed the poor to try their luck in elections and give them the power to rule — “Vote ka raj matlab chhot ka raj. Ab rani ke pet se raja paida nahin hota (through the voting rights, the poor has got the power to elect representatives of their choice. Now a prince is not born by the queens)”.
As such, while the top leaders struggled to rattle out statistics and figures to convince how Bihar sunk under the RJD regime, Prasad himself was enough to turn the tide in his favour, with his stocks of rustic adages which he loved to use in plenty while addressing the masses.
These adages not only conveyed his messages easily and connected him with the masses but also left the weary-looking audience in splits.
As such, many came to attend his rallies just to drive away fatigue of routine domestic works and returned homes debating how Prasad entertained them.
“We are hugely missing Laluji in this election. His colourful quotes and citing of popular countryside adages would make the masses happy. We all miss him a lot. He must have been given bail. If Pragya Singh Thakur facing terror charges can walk out on bail, why can’t Lalu?” asked Santu Yadav, a resident of Maner block in Patna.
Political experts too say Prasad is matchless as far as his gift of the jab is concerned. “None can match this typical skill of Lalu Prasad when it comes to wooing the voters. His absence from the poll scene has left a void of sort. It looks like something is missing this time,” commented a political expert.
Prasad’s absence from the political scene has not only left his supporters disappointed but his own party too.
In his absence, the election campaign is being single-handed launched by his younger son Tejashwi Yadav who served as the deputy chief minister in the previous government. Although his rallies have been drawing impressive crowd yet Tejashwi is not the match for his father, many say.
Lalu’s scion has been rather serious and caustic in remarks towards his political rivals, especially chief minister Nitish Kumar, the way he broke his alliance midway with the RJD to form his new government with the BJP against which he had won the last 2015 state elections.