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Lalu prasad yadav and Indian Politics

, October 12, 2013, 1 Comments

Lalu Prasad Yadav IndiaAnecdotes of Indian politics spin master Lalu Prasad Yadav and his antics.

Politicians are generally a pedigreed breed. They have an innate talent to carve out a win-win situation for themselves no matter what. No one can be a better mascot for this dictum than the country’s court jester Lalu Prasad Yadav; now serving a five-year sentence in jail for lightening the burden of the state coffers by Rs 37 crore in what has come to be known as the Fodder Scam.

To profile and chronicle Lalu’s legendary antics of 36 years on the political and personal canvas can be as challenging as it can get but the immediate provocation here is the man who has traditionally treated Bihar as his personal fiefdom, will now teach the inmates of the jail “Political Science and Management”.

Knowing Lalu’s understanding of the two subjects, you can safely assume that a Lalu inside the jail is as much a menace as he is out of it. According to Jail Superintendent Virendra Kumar, “Due to his age, health and political status, we can not make him do hard work. I will request him to teach the jailed criminals. It would be nice if he teaches Political Science and Management.”

A simplistic view would be Lalu being qualified for the job. With a degree in Political Science and having delivered lectures in management at the Harvard Business School and the IIM, Ahmedabad during his stint as the Union railway minister, Lalu sure fits the bill. It also begs the question what kind of politics and management is he going to teach: The one in the text books or the one that he has practiced all through his caste-based, manipulative career in the predominantly poor cowland.

Around 3,000 inmates, both convicted and under-trials, are lodged in the jail of which around 200 are preparing for intermediate examinations, 100 for graduation and 50 for post-graduation. If you recall what a hit he was when he delivered those speeches, you also have the dreadful prospect of looking at around 400 potential Lalus on the political horizon. In this “lofty” exercise of disbursing political wisdom, Lalu will also be paid Rs 25 per day! It speaks volumes of the political acumen of a man who after being pulled down as the chief minister ruled the state with a “surrogate” — his wife Rabri Devi.

There is home-brewn story about Lalu’s inventiveness and craft but it sits pretty on the shoulders of the man. Once an expert Japanese delegation told Lalu that given the opportunity they would turn Bihar into Japan in five years. At this the irrepressible Lalu — one hand struggling to put his dhoti in place and the other fiddling with the flock of hair popping out of his ears — is reputed to have replied with a disarming smile “You give me Japan and I will turn it into Bihar in one week.”

Having cornered him during the 2005 general elections for a few fleeting minutes in Mumbai, I found out that behind his laconic humour lay an extremely shrewd politician who first harnessed the patently caste Yadavs and after the Bhagalpur violence, the Muslims of the state. He conceded to me that one prime reason he was pitchforked into national politics in 1977 was because of the constant bickering in the Janata Dal government and its subsequent fall.

The fragmentation following the flop Janata government show served as a catalyst for Lalu who went from strength to strength. His penchant for the theatrics and rustic humour — rightly or wrongly — endeared him to the masses. A stupid section of the Media helped his cause by portraying him as some kind of a clown and further contributing to his popularity levels. This rise and rise was punctuated by cleverly orchestrated personal and political capers that became parts of folklore. The Lalu charisma thrived on political rigmaroles of casteism, communalism, nepotism and rank opportunism.

In all that glorification, few read between the lines. For instance, as railway minister, he banned plastic cups and introduced earthen cups to “generate more employment in rural areas.” His late night visits to Patna railway station for surprise inspections were interpreted as the work of a conscientious leader. The Media wrote reams of praise for the Rs 250 billion “turn-around” by loss-making Indian Railways when other PSUs were being bled white by those in power.. His work in Railway Ministry was introduced as a case study by the IIM. But this was a case of silver lining with clouds. It was alleged that the turn-around was a “cosmetic exercise” managed through fudging of accounts. There were also allegations that he misused his position as the railway minister to help his kin get land.

After the heady climb, nemesis caught up with him in keeping with the Murphy’s Law. Although done in by the Rs 37 crore fodder scam, he also had the audacity to order a probe into it. Forced to resign, Lalu left but not before handing over the state’s reins to his uninitiated wife Rabri. The entire sequence of events thereafter could have given any bestseller a run for its money.

Lalu, however, continued to operate like a sovereign and got away with a tomfoolery that might have attracted worst criticism but the Media played ball. Recall how he and Ram Vilas Paswan used a Osama bin Laden look-alike while campaigning during the 2005 elections to woo Muslim voters. The state ruled by him and his wife became a family and feudal concern. Little wonder, it looked down the barrel on every social and economic parameter. With no law — and therefore no order — kidnappings became a cottage industry and private armies that ran parallel administration mushroomed.

Looked against this backdrop of intrigue and maneuverings, you can surmise how the Lalu coaching classes will work in the jail. The Lalu mutation could be a challenge even genetic scientists may not be able to cope with.

You can take a leader out of a Lalu but not a Lalu out of a leader! For, Lalus are born, not made.

  • P V Rajeev Sebastian

    Lalu has got a 5 year teaching assignment in jail. Selection was based on his Harward lectures. Bihar politics will no longer be the same again. There will be many more Lalus in Bihar now!