Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad may be down but is not out yet. From behind the bars in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Jail, Lalu is running the show for his party and issuing orders to a collective leadership led by his wife Rabri Devi. His latest communication to the collective leadership is a two-pronged strategy to win over the electorate in Bihar. Apart from strategising for the elections, visitors also keep Lalu busy in jail.
Senior party leaders told dna that the two-way strategy is to try every means to keep the ‘communal forces’ out of Bihar and tell people that chief minister Nitish Kumar is only trying to divide the secular vote. Meanwhile, senior RJD leaders and leaders of the other parties as well have queued up to meet Lalu in custody over the last one month.
RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav told dna, “Lalu Prasad is guiding us from the jail. The key message that he has conveyed to us is to tell the people of Bihar to gird up against the communal forces in the state. Also, he has directed us to spread the message that Nitish Kumar, under the garb of secularism, is simply trying to divide the secular votes in Bihar and the people of Bihar should not fall into this trap.”
Nitish Kumar parted ways and ended the 17-year-old JD(U)-BJP alliance in March this year over BJP’s portrayal of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. Being asked about the possibility of Congress ignoring RJD and siding with JD(U), Yadav said, “There is no such thing. Lalu had a word with Congress president Sonia Gandhi before going to jail.”
Interestingly, the top RJD leadership has not talked to Congress high command ever since Lalu was sent to jail, as per sources.
RJD, meanwhile, dubs it as hypocrisy. “For 17 years they remained together. What made him remain silent during communal riots in Gujarat in 2002. This is simple hypocrisy,” said another party functionary.
In jail, meanwhile, there is no dearth of visitors for Lalu Prasad. President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijeet Mukherjee, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Independent UP MLA Md Aziz Rizwi are among those who have visited Lalu in jail. According to sources, at least 20 visitors come to meet the RJD supremo every day, and most of them are his party funcationaris and workers.