Lalu’s fate becomes fodder for all
Lady Luck can’t favour a man all the time. Though on Sunday, Lalu started for Ranchi from his Patna residence – after taking the blessings of his Gau-mata (Mother Cow), the Whacky Thursdayshatter all his political dreams – at least for the time being it seems.
Even while the ramifications of Lalu’s conviction and the fate that awaited for his very own political outfit – the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) – continue to be the focal points for discussion in the political arena, one should walk down the memory lane on the day, when Lalu for the first time in 1997, felt the heat of the fodder scam and had landed himself in Beur jail in Patna.
It was on 25 July,1997, to be more precise, when in the wake of the ‘fodder scam’ cases popping out – one after the other as can worms – that had signalled the beginning of the end of fall from grace of Lalu Prasad from the high pedestal of Bihar Chief Minister’s chair. As it turned out, he was to surrender that day his crown to none else but to his better half in the midst of a very high octane drama. The news were floating in the air with the one suggesting Upen Biswas, CBI Joint Director camping in Patna, to accomplish his mission of arresting the Bihar CM, Lalu happened to be in the forefront. As the day grew this piece of information too found many more ears and voices to spread far and wide across the corridors of sprawling secretariat buildings.
That evening the Raj Bhawan, as it turned out, allowed to be witnessed somewhat a ‘farcical’ drama of a change of guard from one hand to the other. Rabri Devi initially reportedly showing utmost reluctance in the backdrop of her obvious limitations for the job she was asked to handle, was literally cajoled and forced to give in to Lalu’s persuasions.
Just minutes ahead of the appointed time Rabri Devi escorted by her husband, the RJD chief and a few party workers entered the Raj Bhawan. The official paraphernalia that followed was the briefest one that the Bihar political functions ever witnessed before. The gentle lady first handed over to Governor a letter of support in her favour signed by the MLAs of the ruling RJD and a copy of Party’s resolution about her being chosen unanimously as leader of the party.
Her swearing- in ceremony in the presence of Lalu and a handful of party workers and some senior bureaucrats, was a swift event and by the time one from the sideline could wish to witness as to what was happening, the new Chief Minster had already finished and was seen busy in signing the oath documents – a final act on such occasions.
The day thus ended on a note of some satisfaction for Lalu who seemed to have perceived that days behind bars for him were likely to be much less torturous than it would otherwise have been. However, he seemed to have failed to appreciate then that the long arms of laws would eventually catch up and get him into their fold eventually. That, however, has since taken some 16-odd years and that, in the period intervening, he had had a free run on India’s democratic pitch may seem to suggest – ironically though – the way the critical democratic institutions in our midst are functioning.
From Beur jail Patna in July, 1997 to Birsa Munda jail Kotwar Ranchi in September, 2013 – the intervening period providing him adequate opportunities for a tumultuous journey – was the period he kept fiddling the political chessboard at the state and central levels, experiencing highs and lows of his career. October 3, 2013, however, proved that he had finally run out of his luck and that the days to follow would be simply as harrowing as it could be – a fact no one knows it better than Lalu.
Lalu’s fairytale run in the political arena made rapid strides. While his nominee Rabri Devi kept providing him all the opportunities to call shots unobtrusively in Bihar affairs, his own switching over to politics at the national level, yielded him a job as Union Minister of Railways – an opportunity that he exploited to the hilt.
The latest CBI court sentencement of five years’ prison with a whopping fine of Rs 25 lakh, however, poses for him a huge challenge to save his political career and to be able to continue guiding the prospect of his party – the RJD. If he doesn’t get the verdict reversed by the higher court soon enough – a daunting prospect given the pace of judicial administration – it all but seems end of the road for Lalu.