RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav | PTI
RJD leader Lalu Prasad is serving multiple sentences for various fodder scams| PTI
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Extremely ill and in jail, Lalu Prasad Yadav still scares his opponents.

Lalu Prasad Yadav is terminally ill and serving a 27-year sentence in jail. But the 70-year old leader is showing no signs of moving away from the political discourse. What explains this phenomenon?

Even before Lalu Prasad Yadav became the chief minister, Bihar was one of the most underdeveloped states in the country in terms of GDP growth, health, education and infrastructure. Lalu came to power in 1990 and his party continued to run the state till early 2005.

Today, Bihar is ruled by a set of politicians who claim to have heralded an era of development and good governance or sushasan. But after more than 13 years of sushasan, Bihar is still one of the poorest, underdeveloped, uneducated and un-industrialised states of India.


Also read: लालू यादव ने वंचित जनता को स्वर्ग नहीं, लेकिन स्वर ज़रूर दिया


Lalu Prasad can be criticised on many counts. But he is not responsible for why Bihar is underdeveloped. Bihar has seen the rule of many chief ministers, some of them were hailed for their statesmanship, progressive outlook and wisdom, but they all failed Bihar in terms of industrialisation, creation of infrastructure and investment in health and education.

We do not blame chief ministers like Sri Krishna Sinha, Binodanand Jha, Mahamaya Sinha, K.B. Sahay, Kedar Pandey, Bindeshwari Dubey, Bhagwat Jha Azad, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Jagannath Mishra and Nitish Kumar for the mess. It is unfair and illogical to single out Lalu Prasad. The story of Lalu is not one of development. He failed on this count, just like others.

These days, Lalu Prasad is in Birsa Munda jail of Ranchi, serving the sentence for different fodder scam cases. The CBI continuously opposes his bail  Verma told the Central Vigilance Commission that there was allegedly some collusion between his deputy Rakesh Asthana, an official in the PMO, and the deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, to book Lalu Prasad in the IRCTC scam.

If these allegations are true, then it proves the hypothesis that detractors of Lalu Prasad are trying to bury him deeper.


Also read: How I blew the whistle on Lalu Prasad Yadav and the fodder case: Amit Khare


Lalu, the survivor

But the pertinent question is how did Lalu survive all the onslaughts of adversaries? The social composition of media in Patna and Delhi is such that they do not like Lalu Prasad’s vehement support for reservation policies benefitting deprived sections of society. He is routinely demonised and ridiculed in newspapers and TV channels. He did not get support from the upper caste-dominated bureaucracy or the legal fraternity.

The Congress party holds a grudge against him because he decimated the grand old party’s dominance in Bihar. He was challenged many a times by his own fellow socialist Lohiaite brethren. Former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda allegedly let loose the CBI against him during his tenure, at a time when Lalu Prasad was one of the tallest leaders at the Centre. The present BJP dispensation in Delhi and the BJP-JD(U) alliance in Patna are hell-bent on destroying him politically. Many of his comrades have left him and are now in the opposition camp.

Despite all these odds, Lalu refuses to wither away.

Lalu Prasad still heads the single-largest party in Bihar Vidhan Sabha. His son Tejashwi Yadav is the leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly. In the house of 243, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has 81 MLAs. They won amid a raging Modi wave and Amit Shah’s invincible election machinery. The BJP got only 53 seats and was relegated to the third position. This miracle was orchestrated by none other than Lalu Prasad.

Lalu is still a dominant factor in the political discourse in Bihar. He may be loved or hated, but nobody can ignore his presence. Whenever he comes to Delhi for medical reasons, opposition leaders flock to visit him. When his party organised a public meeting earlier this year against sexual harassment cases in Bihar shelter home, almost all opposition political parties deputed their senior-most leaders to speak at the event – Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal spoke from the platform.

Now, Lalu Prasad is ill and is suffering serious cardio-vascular and kidney-related ailments. He has undergone cardiac surgeries. He has hypertension and diabetes. Legal and health matters keep him busy.

Politics of assertion

Who is afraid of Lalu Prasad Yadav and why?

As the leader of a large caste group, Yadavs, he is a permanent fixture in Bihar’s politics. But one caste, however large and powerful, cannot single-handedly ensure victory of a candidate or a party. Like other caste groups, Yadav votes also get fragmented.

The real story of the sustained leadership and survival of Lalu Prasad may lie in a political process that started in the 1960s. It was a process of assertion by lower and middle castes in Indian politics. Political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot termed it a silent revolution – a “new assertiveness of the lower castes, the silent majority, that comprise more than two-thirds of the population”. In Bihar, Karpoori Thakur, who became chief mister twice and implemented 26 per cent reservation for backward classes in the state, led this political process and the baton was transferred to Lalu Prasad later.


Also read: Lalu wants to build a grand political family for 2019 but all’s not well in his own family


With his rustic style, Lalu Prasad challenged hegemonic feudal lords in Bihar and the lower caste audience cheered the unprecedented confrontation. They knew, as everyone else, that the condition of Bihar, particularly their own economic condition, is not going to change, but here was leader giving it back to the upper caste bosses in their own language.

Nobody was giving the subalterns of Bihar a seat in heaven, but there is a person called Lalu, who is now giving them a voice.

Lalu Prasad started an unusual scheme to educate the children of cattle grazers in their own surroundings. This scheme subsequently failed, but it must be underlined that for the first time someone thought about educating them. Such ideas may sound absurd to upper caste intelligentsia, but these are the things that built his persona. He even sent fire tenders to the slums so that their pipes could be used for bathing poor children.

These are symbolic gestures, but Lalu captured the imagination of the times. He did the unthinkable by fielding a Mushahar (the lowest group in the caste hierarchy) woman Bhagwati Devi in the parliamentary election. Lalu Prasad compelled the upper caste-dominated bureaucracy to implement reservation policy in jobs and education. He won over Dalits and the OBCs but alienated the upper castes. Their anger against him continues to this day.


Also read: 4 reasons Amit Shah has been so generous to Nitish Kumar in seat-sharing in Bihar


Stand on communalism

One important factor that shapes the phenomenon called Lalu Prasad is his uncompromising stand on communalism. The administration in Bihar is not known to be efficient, but Lalu largely managed to contain communal violence in Bihar for 15 years. This is no small achievement. Before Lalu, the communal temperature in Bihar was soaring with frequent riots, the worst being the communal massacre in Bhagalpur, killing nearly 2,000 people. He boldly arrested BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani in Bihar during the Rath Yatra to Ayodhya. Lalu Prasad said that he will not let communal violence kill anyone because life of a commoner is as precious as that of a Prime Minister.

During 2015 state elections, Lalu Prasad turned the table on the BJP by making reservation a poll issue. He challenged RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s suggestion that reservation policy should be reviewed. He said: “Mai ka doodh piya hai to khatam karke dikhao (If you have guts, end the reservation policy).”

This single sentence sums up the enigma called Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The author is a senior journalist.

Read this article in Hindi.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. The opposition always attack on lalu for corruption by making lots of false rumors which he had not done in that scale every political party make money …but the upper caste media never shouts on other like nitish and sushil modil lots of other leaders but on lalu they shouts by knowing incomplete information..shame on indian media and investmenting agency of India

  2. You have shown one side of coin, just flip the coin and see Lalu has image of corrupt, scandalous politician. He has wasted 15 years of his tenure and pushed Bihar 50 years back. Look at his family, his daughter got gold medal in medical and what she is doing, all in disproportionate assets case. Shameful

  3. Looting the country and its resources is okay for a rustic and low caste person? Which formula of ethics? Misguided anger?

  4. The thought underlying democracy being that – No thought is so heinous that it does not deserve to be heard once. Now having heard the thought it must be mulled upon with a unprejudiced mind.
    In that context everyone who is rejecting the article upfront is incapable of the said democratic exercise and needs to rethink because some lies are so tempting that we end up as victims of make believe game……
    The writer has just put forward an explanation to a phenomenon which is a reality and no one can deny it. One’s interest may make him to believe otherwise but definitely lalu prasad yadav has most persistently charismatic political career we have seen in recent times.

  5. In 1990 to 2000, most of the states including tamilnadu by jayalalitha n Karunanidhi are in poverty, corruption , unemployment etc. Lalu is not arrogance as like JJ, mayawathi, Mamatha Banerjee. In India all states are caste based politics only. Also who has not done corruption in India after 90’s? As a nutshell, Lalu initiated revolution for backward people in India and controlled riots in Bihar whereas caste based riots was more in Tamil nadu at the time. Still no industry, IT company coming forward to Bihar though Buhari’s ready to work with low salary n more time. It is bcz of mindset of owners and CEOs of the company and region connectivity of the state. In his 15 yrs tenure, Lalu was tried to become good teacher among poor govt school students compared to talented rich private school students. Overall Lalu is better than JJ, Karunanidhi, nitish , Maya etc based on his principles followers in life.

  6. Written is seems to be a paid journalist working as PR of lalu yadav..yes lalu was revolutionary but revolutionary of what ?? He brought revolution in kidnapping industry, he brought revolution in looting the public money, ruined the education system, divided bihar in fragments of caste , and still he got votes of particular caste..and that caste ll remain underdeveloped till they stop voting lalu the killer of many innocents for ransom and kidnapping.

  7. For a South Indian (which is dominated population-wise by shudras), and for someone who has studied and taught many North Indian students from various states and had many debates with them, this article appears to be very biased.
    The journalist does not seem to understand human psychology. Committing criminal acts per se requires boldness. It is called Sociopathy when you do not feel any guilt for your actions and can lie your way through anything whether it is needed or not. Arresting Advani was part of that boldness and part political mileage.
    I do not understand why the author is fixated on communalism under Lalu while forgetting the corruption, extortion & kidnapping industries he has developed. These are the only industries he has developed.
    For the kind author’s information, he can go check the Patna Medical College records of a DR. MISA (Lalu’s daughter) who apparently failed in all university exams but somehow go the the university gold medal in her final exams.
    Journalism is supposed to be unbiased sir. Your article is plain bullshit whose colour is very obvious.

  8. Absolutely insane!

    It is like ridiculing Bihar and being unfair to thousands of innocents who either perished or were forced to migrate to other states forever due to utter lawlessness and rampant misgovernance in Bihar….perhaps the only state where calls from CM residence were directly made to even thanas to release caste specific murder accused immediately!

    The righter while being blindly prejudiced has made a mockery of journalism and perhaps he forgot to mention that this is a paid advertisement!

    Offcourse, Bihar was the best performing state in India after independence under Shri Babu (SK Singh) and his illustrious deputy Anugrah Babu (Dr. AN Sinha).Both were outstanding administrators and intellectual thinkers by any standards..
    Even till the time of Lalu Ji’s CMship, Bihar continued to be somewhat an ‘average’ state performing normally before all hell broke loose and development nosedived and governance passed away in Bihar….
    The testimony is poverty which jumped from a mere a whopping 44 percent under leader of ‘poor’ Lalu Ji and Complete closure of many important factories, establishments and virtual rot of government machinery…It is also interesting to point out that Lalu Ji’s wealth increase a million times during this period.
    By the way how was Bihar ‘governed’ when an illiterate spouse was forcefully hoisted as CM?

  9. The journalist has chosen to gloss over certain impotant points to justify the 15 years rule of Lalu Yadav.
    Firstly,Other than Shree Krishna Singh, no other Chief Minister got such an extended run as Chief Minister as Lalu-Rabri.Many of the Congress CMs mentioned were just stop -gap arrangements.Besides,after Lalu took over as Chief Minister,economic liberalisation was set in motion and the GDP of many states galloped.Lalu had a bias against developement as he had a firm conviction that fruits of developement go only to upper caste people.So,Bihar which was anyway not a developed state at the start of his rule further descended deep in economic backwardness.The economic disparity between between Bihar and other states accentuated further.
    The main reason behind the unprecedented growth curve of Lalu was that he could exploit the pent up frustration and anger of intermediate caste against the upper caste.He kind of symbolized the rising aspiration of the the lower caste which wanted the levers of power in post Mandal era.His rustic but confident mannerisms, organisational ability, witty articulation made him the hero that the lower caste had always aspired for.He literally decimated the Congress party in Bihar as it was seen as a party where power rests with the upper caste .It had to happen as numerically upper caste were no match for intermediate and lower castes.Once Congress was marginalised and Lalu got embroiled in corruption cases his popularity graph came down.Nitish Kumar,the other backward caste leader was everyting that Lalu was not.Nitish was articulate,development oriented and had a vision.Very soon the cloak of invincibility came off Lalu and he was ousted of power.

    Lalu was on a terminal downhill journey until Nitish gave him a lifeline by snapping his ties with BJP.He still hold sway among Yadavs and Muslims.But going will be tough for him in 2019.

  10. Don’t know what the author is trying to achieve with this article. Projecting Lalu as hero is a shameful act, the author is only telling the stories from which he can change his image. why dont you tell his crimes, corruptions, murder stories and let the readers be the judge weather he is victim or culprit. None of the above written can justify the bads which he has done to the state. Lalu chor tha chor hai aur rahega.

  11. Good one. Keep writing these articles. This we knew that he is not only responsible for Bihar. There are other factors also for the deterioration of Bihar. And I know that those who are not getting reservation are against the same.

  12. Bihar has developed a lot under Nitish. Lalu should have advised his Son properly when he was Dy. CM. His son could not establish a good equation with Nitish possibly because he may have a bit of arrogance like his father in his DNA.

  13. Deepak Mandal, The writer of this Article, i feel like that you were not in Bihar when Lalu ruled for 15 years or else u wont have find words to appreciate him. Sir, many of things in your write up are true that Bihar was underdeveloped before Lalu also and is still in the bottom. You are very right that he gave strength to the down trodden and did not let riots happen in Bihar in his 15 years rule. But at the same time, in Lalu’s 15 years Bihar became a dreaded land where even people from other states of India stopped visiting. In Lalu’s era, It became necessary for parents to send their children outside Bihar for education or else once Patna University was a name to recon with. Bihari became a thing of Mockery because the Leader of Bihar Lalu behaved like a Joker everywhere. Greatness would have been in Lalu if after giving social strength to the down trodden Lalu would also had strengthened economically to this class. Lalu’s Wealth increased like a Zamindar and the people became more poor in Bihar. I dont say that Nitish Kumar’s rule is great but at least we have some good roads ( Travel time from Patna to my village 100 Kms, has reduced from 7 hours to 3 hours), we have good electricity ( More than 20 hours in Patna and also more than 15 hours in my village out of 24 hours ) and up of all a sense of security. Nitish definitely failed in Industrialization / Generating Jobs / Stopping Migration / Stopping Corruption / Improving Education, but at least he is taken seriously and is not a reason of making Biharis a thing of Mockery.

  14. A senior journalist who wrote this article didn’t even mentioned that till the 3rd 5 year plan, the state Bihar was developing on higestest growth rate in compare to the current developed states with high industrialization being done there like the Tisco, Sindri, Bokaro, Dalmia Nagar, Barauni came and was developing the region. Most of the prominent Institute also opened that time only like BIT Mesra, Sindri, XISS, XLRI etc. That time the CM which the author mentioned was Sri Krishna Singh who was a progressive person and called Father of Modern Bihar, and this Irony that he is today compared with a the theif and lootera Lalu
    The development got slow after 1965-67 when these scocialists started gaining power.
    Do your homework before writting any thing crap.

  15. Very aptly said Mandal ji. While disallowing him to avail required medical facilities his opponents have shown their feudal mindset. Humanity shld be above political battle.Nobody has right to play with the life of anybody irrespective of political affiliation.Be human first.

  16. The writer Dilip Mandal seems to be very biased. He presents Lalu as a victim and goes on eulogising him. No where he mentions that he looted treasury and is a corrupt person.
    According to him Lalu is an achiever as a chief minister. My foot.
    What can you expect from such a writer whose family members seem to be the beneficiaries of Lalu’s lopsided policies.

  17. Abe Deepak Mandal AA Bihar mein dekh AA ke dekh… underdeveloped??? Bahar se commentary mat kar aa kar dekh…..a prominently developing state….tumhare jaise hi jhaantu journalist stereotype karke reputation kharab karte hain

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