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Dhritarashtra continues Bihar battle as Arjun

Patna, June 30: In the badlands of Bihar, it takes an Arjun to succeed Dhritarashtra. And never mind if they happen to be the same person.

In an interesting role reversal, former director-general of police R.R. Prasad, whom people called Dhritarashtra when he was in service, has reinvented himself as Arjun in a different battlefield — politics. Prasad’s aim is to stop criminals from hijacking the country’s politics.

So, for the past few days, he has been striding down the village streets in Buxar and Bhojpur districts, talking to panchayat members and urging them to vote for him in the coming Assembly council polls. “Roles change. So does the image. I am now Arjun in the battle. I am fighting the criminals who are attempting to hijack the country’s politics,” says Prasad.

However, his fight is not going to be easy. At least 15 criminals, who are among 40 candidates in the race for the July 10 polls, have launched a snigger campaign against the former director-general of police.

“Once a Dhritarashtra, always so. No one wants an idle person in politics,” scoffs Millu Chowdhary, a contestant who has 20 criminal cases against him.

The nickname “Dhritarashtra” stuck after the former DGP compared himself to the mythological blind king during a hearing of a case in Patna High Court saying he had failed to resist the “chirharan” (disrobing of the state) by organised gangs.

Prasad challenges anyone to cite a case in which he has bungled. But though he says he has emerged clean from a house of dirt — “Main to kajal ka kothri se bedaag nikla hoon”, a reference to his days as a policeman — his record as head of the state police force is hardly impressive.

According to police records, abductions and killings were the highest during his stint. Even media persons fell victims to organised crime, with one photographer being abducted.

The former director-general of police was also summoned several times by Patna High Court as land-grabbers continued their plunder on a government plot in the Digha area of the city. His quip about being Dhritarashtra came during one of the hearings in the case.

However, Prasad, who had once approached Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav for his blessings only to be told to prove his strength by contesting on his own, is undaunted.

Tall and sturdy, a Gorkha Regiment cap on his head that tells of his original cadre and which he considers lucky, he thunders down the village paths, a group of local boys running to keep pace, meeting the mukhias and panchayat ward members.

Prasad brushes aside the money and muscle power his main rival in the Buxar battle is flexing.

If Bisweswar Ojha, a hardened criminal in the district, roars down the rural roads with his carloads of supporters, the former DGP refuses to be cowed down. “I had announced Rs 20,000 on his head,” he recalls.

His mood is upbeat. There has not been a single campaign when villagers have not come out of their homes and crowded around Prasad to hear him speak. The former policeman also attempts a bit of humour. “I am the tallest leader in my constituency,” he says.

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