| Guess who: Khalid Noor and Lalu Prasad at a function in Patna in 2005. Telegraph file picture |
Patna, May 2: This “Osama” died politically over five years ago. Meet Khalid Noor — a small-time businessman in his mid-thirties who rose to prominence as “Bihar’s Osama” with the blessings of the political powerhouses.
Noor was flaunted by both RJD chief Lalu Prasad and LJP boss Ram Vilas Paswan prior to the 2005 elections with an eye on the Muslim votes. “Osama”, the leaders thought, was politically saleable in Bihar.
Noor’s seat in the helicopter was permanently booked with Paswan and Lalu Prasad, even at the cost of dropping other recognised political leaders. Noor, dressed in the Osama dress code, played to the gallery sharing the stage with these two leaders and attacking the US for its “anti-Muslim” policies.
In the 2005 February Assembly polls, Noor was with LJP chief Paswan who was then at loggerheads with Lalu Prasad and trying to woo away the Muslims from the RJD. The LJP won as many as 28 Assembly seats — leading to a hung House and preventing Lalu Prasad from recapturing power in the state.
Just before the November 2005 elections, Lalu Prasad held a press meet and paraded Noor in front of the media and quipped: “Paswanji ka Bin Laden Osama mere pas aa gaya (Paswanji’s Osama Bin Laden is with me now).”
The late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, who was then campaigning for the NDA in Bihar, could not hide his indignation. “They (Lalu and Paswan) are glorifying the name of a man who is recognised as the most wanted terrorist in the world,” Mahajan had said at a public speech, one of his last in Bihar before he was tragically killed in May 2006.
However, the “duplicate Osama” could not prevent Lalu Prasad’s slide from power. Since the humiliating defeat, Noor has not been seen near either Lalu Prasad or Paswan.
“I am still a member of the RJD. It’s another matter that Laluji preferred to have other persons around him after November 2005. But that does not mean I am out of politics. Not a word of Laluji has appeared for the last three months in the media. But that does not mean he is out of politics,” Noor told The Telegraph today, hours after news broke about the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Noor declared that his being dubbed as the “duplicate Osama” was a “media hype”.
However, Noor’s admiration for the slain al Qaida chief appears stronger than what he has for Lalu Prasad or Paswan. “Netaji Subhas Bose was a terrorist for the British regime. It is hardly surprising that Osama Bin Laden should be called a terrorist by the Americans. He (Osama) may have died but the cause he was fighting for is still alive,” Noor said, asserting that Osama himself had never said that he had executed the 9/11 attacks.
However, the much-hyped duplicate Osama is hardly missed in political circles here. “In 2005 there was a tug of war between Lalu and Paswan for the Muslim votes. The two leaders made it sure that they were seen moving around with Muslim clergy in public meetings. The duplicate Osama only provided comic relief,” remarked a senior RJD leader, pointing out that such acts and even carrying an Osama look alike all did not pay politically after all.