| Misa Bharti, Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter, oversees preparations at Gandhi Maidan for the RJD’s Parivartan Rally to be held on Wednesday. Pictures by Deepak Kumar and AFP
Patna, May 14: At the height of her father’s power, the capital’s corridors of power were abuzz with tales of her authoritarian ways though she was seldom seen in public. Now, married and a mother of two, Misa Bharti is ready to accept the “mistakes” committed during the Lalu-Rabri era that saw her father being swept out of power, but hastens to add that he is now a “changed man”.
Standing under the scorching sun at Gandhi Maidan where her father will address a rally tomorrow, Misa (38) is confident that Lalu Prasad, if given a chance again by the people, would put Bihar on the path of development.
“No doubt he committed some mistakes which resulted in the people voting against him,” said Misa, the eldest of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi’s seven daughters and two sons, tossing back her wind-swept hair. “He ruled Bihar for 15 years, that’s a long time, isn’t it?”
But she refused to specify what she thought were the mistakes her father made — maybe listing them would have meant recalling her father’s decision — one of the most audacious in independent India — to pitchfork her mother Rabri Devi to the chief minister’s chair.
“Now he is a changed man,” asserted Misa. “Given a chance he would put Bihar on the path of the development. He is a mass leader and I am sure he is capable of returning to power again.”
Misa, famously named after the draconian Emergency-era law (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) under which her father was jailed, first created headlines in the late nineties when she topped her MBBS degree exam, with a distinction in gynaecology, from Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). Lalu’s opponents cried foul, saying they smelt a rat as she was never that bright in school.
She married computer engineer Shailesh Kumar in 1999. The couple are now settled in New Delhi and are parents to daughters Durga (11) and Gauri (5). But in spite of her medical degree, Misa doesn’t practise and has so far been content being a homemaker.
“I could not practise because immediately after clearing my MBBS exam, I got married. It was not possible for me to continue with my medical profession with all the family responsibilities on my shoulder,” she said.
Today though, she was busy overseeing preparations for her father’s Parivartan Rally tomorrow at Gandhi Maidan — the first time she has made a public appearance.
“Be sure, it will be a huge and successful rally for my father,” she said. “It’s an RJD event and all of us are part of the family.”
Wiping the sweat off her face, Misa was constantly barking orders at the staff. “Keep the lantern (the RJD symbol) properly on the stage,” she told one member of the entourage. “Make sure it stands upright.”
Does she harbour political ambitions now that her brothers Tej Pratap and Tejaswi are taking active part in the rally? Misa is game. “If the party has faith in me and feels I have the potential to do well in politics, I do not mind accepting the challenge,” she said.
But lest the attention gets diverted from her father, Misa was quick to add that the rally would not be the occasion for her political debut. “We are all set for the rally and a large number of people are coming to take part in it. But I would like to assert that I am not going to make any public speech tomorrow and I have just come here to oversee the preparations,” she said.