RJD leader and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav | ThePrint
RJD leader and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav | ThePrint
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Lalu Prasad Yadav must be an unhappy and anxious man these days. He is the only leader who could stop L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra to Ayodhya on its tracks. And even today, he is the only one with the ability to bring all secular forces together on a single platform. But in his absence, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led BJP is having a field day, unchallenged by any opposition to their bhoomi pujan plan on 5 August for a gigantic Ram Mandir in the middle of a raging coronavirus pandemic that is infecting nearly 50,000 people daily. But the opposition is directionless and failing to move people with its ideas.

Sitting in a ward of Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Lalu Yadav must be aware of what is happening in Ayodhya and Delhi. According to the jail manual, he is allowed to meet a limited number of acquaintances every week, and he must be keeping himself updated about the Modi government’s plan of organising a grand bhoomi pujan.

The opposition parties are more or less mum on the temple issue, perhaps fearful that opposing the BJP’s move may boomerang and alienate their Hindu voters. But Lalu Yadav stopped the Ram Rath Yatra in 1990, had L.K. Advani arrested, and still went on to win the next election in Bihar, a state with more than 80 per cent Hindus. Later, when Lalu Yadav was asked why he stopped the Rath Yatra, he said, “Simply, to save the country. To protect the nation and defend the Constitution of India.”

But this time, the BJP must be relieved because the person who can throw a spanner in its wheel will not be around. 

When Lalu Yadav ordered the Bihar Police to arrest Advani in Samastipur, he changed the course of Indian politics. He defined the new face of secularism, interwoven with the idea of social justice as a counterforce to the communal politics of the BJP. The implication of this is still felt in Bihar, the only state in the entire Hindi heartland that has not seen a BJP chief minister yet.


Also read: There’s a new Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar & he’s doing everything he didn’t do in past 5 years


A Lalu wave

Meanwhile, Bihar is getting ready for the assembly polls in the winter and the Election Commission and political parties are busy with their preparations. For the first time in three decades, Lalu Prasad Yadav will not be there to campaign for his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the Bihar assembly election. Although he saw a mixed fortune in the elections, the RJD emerged a winner in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2015, and lost in 2005 and 2010. But Lalu always remained at the centre of the discourse in Bihar. It has been either a Lalu wave or an anti-Lalu wave. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is in the running — despite all his failures on development, law and order and administrative fronts — because he has been the only leader to stop Lalu Yadav from winning.

In the last three decades, Lalu and his party have been in power for more than 22 years: the RJD ruled Bihar continuously for 15 years, and in 2004, Lalu became the Union rail minister for five years. The RJD was also part of the ruling coalition in Bihar during 2015-17 and Lalu’s son, Tejashwi Yadav, was the Deputy Chief Minister. But Lalu’s multiple scams caught up to him. He was convicted in 2017 in the fodder scam and jailed.

Lalu Yadav’s success in politics is more resounding because he comes from a humble background and faced a long list of adversaries, including hostile media and unforgiving investigative agencies.


Also read: How Nitish Kumar’s fight against corruption has unravelled in 13 years


Stopping the rath

Despite his ill health, it’s unlikely that Lalu will be allowed to come out of jail on parole or furlough in the near future. Even if he applies for relief, especially considering the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will certainly oppose such an application. Otherwise, it would have been interesting to watch Lalu strategising to counter the BJP’s Mandir move during the upcoming election.

We don’t know what impact he would have made on the election results if he was free, but we do know for sure that in such a scenario, the BJP and the RSS leaders would have been spending sleepless nights thinking about the next move of this wily politician. He would have added colour to the election campaign. Lalu Yadav is known to act unconventionally and surprise his opponents and detractors. The BJP can’t forget what he had done to its then supreme leader in 1990. At that time, Lalu was a novice and he had been the chief minister of Bihar for hardly six months.

Exactly three decades back, a younger Lalu found himself at the centre of events related to the Ram Mandir movement. The BJP president at the time, L.K. Advani was roaming India riding a rath or chariot (a makeshift truck laden with religious motifs and a big portrait of Rama) seeking support for demolishing the Babri Masjid and making a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya. He started his journey from Somnath temple in Gujarat and after crisscrossing north and central India, he reached Bihar and was heading towards Ayodhya. His Rath Yatra had already left behind a trail of communal violence.

Although Advani crossed many states, no chief minister dared to stop him. It was Lalu Yadav who decided that the Ram Rath can’t be allowed to move any further.


Also read: All parties promise ‘achhe din’. But only BJP has the 3 Ms that make it stand apart


Election 2020

Even during the Modi wave, the BJP failed to overcome the Lalu factor. In 2015, during the assembly election in Bihar, the BJP tried to form its own government, but Lalu Yadav forged a formidable alliance with Nitish Kumar and the Congress — and latched onto a statement by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who had suggested that the reservation system should be reviewed.

Lalu made this the central theme of the election campaign and painted the BJP as an anti-social justice party. He outwitted the BJP in all spheres despite having fewer resources. The BJP was able to win only 53 seats out of 243. With 82 MLAs, the RJD emerged as the single largest party. Honouring the pre-poll promise, Lalu agreed to make Nitish Kumar the chief minister, despite the Janata Dal (United) winning fewer seats. The coalition failed to run the full course and it came to an abrupt end in 2017, when Nitish decided to side with the BJP to form the government in Bihar and in the process, he kicked RJD out of the coalition.

Although the secular coalition crumbled, the BJP couldn’t have forgotten the humiliation meted out to it by Lalu Yadav. Apart from the Delhi assembly elections in 2015 and 2020, the Bihar election has been the most humiliating defeat for the BJP after the advent of Narendra Modi at the Centre. So, the party is leaving nothing to chance to win the battle in Bihar now.

We can’t fathom what is going on in the mind of Lalu Prasad, but he is the eternal fighter. It is hard to imagine that he may not have a trick or two up his sleeve for the forthcoming election, which he may whisper to son Tejashwi Yadav when he visits him in the hospital. After all, in north India, he has been the only politician who knows how to tame the Mandir politics of the BJP.

The author is the former managing editor of India Today Hindi Magazine, and has authored books on media and sociology. Views are personal.

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37 Comments Share Your Views

37 COMMENTS

  1. Appears as if Dilip Mandal is out of sync by just about two and a half decades.. What he has written is just for money it earns him. it may be his opinion but such out of date opinions do not matter today. If there is any sincerity in it let him try putting Lalu in action to prove his point. After all Lalu is still alive and giving out sound bytes from time to time ( like a toad on heat ) to prove it..

  2. One can only wonder which fantasy world this author inhabits…..Lalu Yadav, as our savior indeed ! What next, Shashi Tharoor for PM, with Imran Khan from next door as our President perhaps? Stop trying to resuscitate that still born child called Secularism please……it was bad enough that we had to carry its stinking carcass draped about our psyche for the past 5 decades…..That masjid (and the ones at Kashi and Mathura) should’ve been knocked down back in 1947 , the Congress was just not up to the task because they constantly wanted to pitch us as some bleeding heart liberal culture that would constantly keep offering our other cheek…Gandhi might have understood the British, but he was way out of his depth with the Muslim League…the congress, with the Nehru-Gandhis at its helm, has only tried to perpetuate that fantasy way beyond its expiry date……India has always been a Hindu country, which has been very accommodating of diverse, and divergent , belief systems ; and it will remain so……but certain wrongs of history, need to be set right. Much like how the caste system needed to be put in its place, and avenues of social mobility made possible, the psychological servitude that Islam has held Hindu culture in around the subcontinent, needs to be gotten rid of.

    If you truly believe that edifices built by Turkic invaders like Babur (who never considered himself Indian, mind you…this was only a place of loot and self validation for him) and Aurangzeb (the less said about that tyrant, the better) deserve social protection, but not the ideas that Ram and Krishna stood for, then that’s ok —the magnanimity of our culture equips us to tolerate dissent, and even that of somebody like you. So, its ok for you not to want a ram mandir, your disapproval is duly noted.. But the larger part of the population of this nation does, so stop whining about it.

  3. Modi and Shah must feel amazed and unreal, surely this must be some ploy by the opposition. They cannot be this nonsensical, this illogical, this fantastically clueless.
    Alas they are. People please put in some effort atleast,

  4. In their extreme hatred against Modi and against Hindus, these crooks forget the basic respect to a democratic set up.
    We, the people, want Ram Mandir. And the BJP is helping us realize that dream. Hence, it keeps winning.
    It’s that simple!

  5. Mandal is so sad that gigantic corruption has stopped and gundaraj of Bihar, in which Lalu had his own cut, has stopped.

  6. Could have….Would have….Should have….What’s the point? Like Navjyot Sidhu says on commentary – if my aunty were a man, she would be my uncle. Lalu Prasad’s time is over. Better search for someone else to be your messiah.

  7. Seems like anti-Hindu and minority appeasement (read: Muslim appeasement) is secularism from this article. Tazia is secular but a Rath Yatra is damaging to India’s constitution. How much longer are you pseudo-liberals gonna keep up this fascism in the garb of secularism?

  8. This author has written such nonsense that he didn’t mention about the Loksabha election results in Bihar both 2014 and 2019? What this joker Lalu could do in these elections. A rogue politician Lalu is paying his karmic debt by rotting in the jail.

  9. The Congress filed an affidavit stating that there is no proof of existence of Lord Ram.

    Sonia is a practicing Christian who brought anti Hindu Communal Violence Bill.

  10. In a time when every India has Mobile phone and internet full of all counter views, time of Lalu type netas is gone forever. The author seems to live in Lalu’s time which will never return. All librandus would die hoping Lalu’s time will return when they can do corruption without the fear of being caught and punished.

  11. Really? This is the kind of opinion that we like to publish? Lalu Prasad Yadav is a criminal. He should not be allowed to participate in the electoral system. Is this article indirectly asking for it?

    Lalu Prasad Yadav and secularism? One of India’s first caste leaders practicing Casteist politics is a light of secular politics? India’s secularism will be killed by journalists and opinion writers such as Dilip Mandal.

    The BJP is in power because of a largescale sentiment among the majority of neglect and appeasement of Muslims. I am not sure why a community that had been the ruling class for most part of the past 1000 years be considered a minority and be subject of privileges. Why a community whose leadership asked for partition be given special privileges which is not granted to the Majority. I do not understand this notion of minority to begin with. That unto itself is not secular. A Constitution is secular to the extent that it does not recognize citizens as religious groups. Our Intelligentsia do not quite know the idea of secularism and how it came about.

    Secularism was a means to rid the interference of the Church. I say it again the Church. The nations that established secular governance were Christian. The ones that went on crusades in the name of the Church. It was this kind of diktat that the establishment of secular rule tried to rid.

    We are neither Christian, nor do our religious heads interfere in matters of Governance. However, in our secular republic and our brand of secularism, religious heads of minorities have a say. Votebanks anyone? Congress party meeting Mullahs and Imams for votes is ok? The same holds for Lallu, Yadav and rest of the so called secular leadership…

    READ FOLKS.. READ……..

    • Well put. In reality those who like to call themselves liberal intellectuals are neither. Nor can they be called the intelligentsia. Most of them are brainwashed, strongly biased literati. Although they love to quote the Constitution and it’s preamble most of them are not even prepared to treat all as Indians. That’s why the constant partitioning into majority, minority, upper caste, lower caste etc.

    • Lol ….most of the Muslim community are in dire straits and economically very weak …commission report after another state this but you choose to ignore it cause it does not suite your narrative..love your argument t that because a few Muslim’s ruled parts of the country centuries back all muslims should be doing good at present .did you come up with this brilliant logic yourself ? And by your own statement if criminals should not be allowed to participate in elections, modi and Amit shah should be shown the door first as they are not just mass murderers but also highly corrupt ( read Sahara birla files) . In this beautiful country of ours, we seem to reward criminality with the bigger criminals imprisoning the smaller criminals who might turn out to be a threat to them.

  12. A casteist bigot glorifying his caste leader in spite of all his faults, crimes and running a criminal and corrupt government for large part of last two decades and destroying a key state. Its a shame such articles get a forum.

  13. Everybody will get the result of his done work.Similarly Lalujee is enjoying his days at RIMS in this stage of his life.Bhagwan Krishna spent his childhood with yadavs.But being a yadav Lalujee is proud of creating obstacle in Ramjanmabhoomi movement.Have you seen any other community members creating obstacle for their own community in name of fake secularism?But you can find many like Lalujee in our holy Hindu community to oppose Hindu ideologies to garner minority votes only.Other community members become happy to see this.Now Ram Temple will be definitely built ,Advanejee and other temple movement leaders will also attend the event ? Lalujee will know only about the event being at RIMS but can not create any type of obstacle.Building Ram temple is bad in his view but looting a state using hooligans for decades in the pretext of secularism is good for him.Ram is eternal ,whoever will oppose him will definitely get the appropriate result like our Lalujee.

  14. Seeing him win the elections only proves that “Biharis are Bikaaris”, who lack self-respect and right to be treated as beggers, rowdies everywhere they go in India.

  15. What Lalu is has been decided by the judiciary even it was too much delayed . No amount of white washing will brighten his blac… face.

  16. When milk is offered to GOD some journalist go ballistic. And when blood of innocent animals is spilled same hate journalist celebrate. We have to understand where this journalist and their political masters come from.

  17. I think the Author has gone nuts! Even a novice journalist knows that 2015 elections won not because of Lalu but the larger coalition that was stitched.. It is a simple Political Arithmetic that stumped BJP and not the so called social justice he is talking about.. Secondly, 1990 was different from 2014, because now (Atlease from North India), Hindus feel the appeasement politics of Congress which made them to unite. Besides, Advani is not effective in stitching up the case arithmetic like Amit shah does.. This author convneiently forget that BJP and Nithish kumar together defeated Lalu when he was very much outside the jail.. Come to sense Author sir.. You have a better platform to show your loyalty to Lalu.. please

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