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Laloo sprinkles barandi salt on Marandi wound

Patna, April 22: “Keya Marandi, tumhara barandi khatam ho gaya (Hey Marandi, have you run out of your bottle of brandy)'” Laloo Prasad Yadav plunged the knife of insult into the heart of Babulal Marandi, the former Jharkhand chief minister.

Then he began twisting it. “In the Bacon Factory guesthouse (in Ranchi), I was supposed to have died a political death, as your men told me. But where are you these days' Sab kuch thik-thak tha, magar tum bare jaldbaji me the (Other things were ok, but you seemed to be in a tearing hurry),” Laloo Prasad said with an impish smile, before turning his attention on others at state BJP president Nandkishore Yadav’s daughter’s wedding last night.

Faced with the full blast of the bitterness Laloo Prasad reserves for him after the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief was detained — much against his wishes — in Ranchi in 2001 in one of the fodder scam cases registered there, a pale-faced Marandi could not utter a word, let alone retort.

Impaled by the barbs, he smiled nervously and darted embarrassed glances as Nandkishore Yadav, his successor Arjun Munda, and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh looked on.

Few others in the gathering would have missed this political sideshow of jokes, jibes and a jarring battle of nerves.

The drama opened with Laloo Prasad walking in with his entourage, including Shivanand Tiwari and Jayprakash Yadav. As a buzz “Laloo Prasad is here” rose, Marandi made an effort to keep his eyes away from the Bihar strongman.

Laloo Prasad, too, looked away. But as he went up to the bride’s father to congratulate him, he could not avoid Marandi. He had no pleasantries to spare for the people who had tried their utmost to banish him into political wilderness.

After lancing Marandi, he turned to Munda.

Stepping closer to him, Laloo Prasad said: “Don’t make any mistake. Don’t be in a hurry. Are the IAS officers listening to you'” Munda did a Marandi, offering only a confused smile.

“If they don’t, ask me. I will help you,” Laloo Prasad said and asked Tiwari to give Munda his secret cellphone number. The bystanders burst into laughter.

The bitterness between the leaders of the two states was summed up when a Congress veteran at the party said: “Perhaps far more bitter than Indo-Pak relations.”

All this while, Rajnath had been watching with the polite smile of a political rival, except an occasional impatient twitch of his eyebrows. Suddenly, Laloo Prasad turned to him.

“Did I not say the right thing Singh sahab'” Having witnessed the ‘murder’ of Marandi and Munda, he gave in.

“You cannot be wrong,” Rajnath said with a voice dripping sarcasm.

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