Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad may be absent in the current phase of elections, but he continues to echo through his newly released autobiography—Gopalganj to Raisina: My political journey.
Serving jail sentence away in Ranchi since December 2017 in cases related to fodder scam, Lalu tried desperately to get out on bail by taking recourse to the highest court.
His obvious bid to get out was aimed to empower his party and its alliance to counter the surge of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar. However, legal reprieve eluded him.
Although his party might be finding it hard to add zing into the campaigning like Lalu, his book (co-authored by journalist Nalin Verma) is keeping him very much in the centrestage of political discourse of Bihar in the midst of elections by kicking off one controversy after another.
The book, whose released was timed ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, triggered the first major row over Lalu’s claim that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was desperate to break away from BJP, barely six months after forming the NDA government.
It noted that poll strategist of Nitish-led Janata Dal (United) Prashant Kishore met Lalu to merge the party with RJD in lieu of his words for projecting Nitish as the prime ministerial candidate.
The book’s claim got further credence when former chief minister Rabri Devi and her son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav—Lalu’s political heir, supported the contention.
They said Kishore met the RJD chief at his 10 Circular Road residence five times, but Lalu declined the offer on Rabri’s insistence.
Kishore, however, was quick to trash the book’s contention, and dared Lalu to debate the issue in person.
Then, BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Modi joined the issues by claiming that Lalu was ready to form the government with BJP in lieu of the Centre’s support in the cases he was involved.
“Lalu approached (Finance Minister) Arun Jaitely through his emissary Prem Chandra Gupta for the bargain, which never materialized,” said Modi.
by Madhu Mishra