Ranchi, Oct. 1: Freedom lost, Lalu Prasad has asked for a fridge.
A doctor at Birsa Munda Central Jail, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief has been sent following his conviction in a fodder scam case yesterday, said the 65-year-old VIP inmate has expressed the wish for a refrigerator in his cell.
For those who think that’s rather brazen, even by Lalu Prasad’s normal standards of nonchalance, here’s the reason: he wants the fridge to store his eye drops and other medicines.
While the court verdict has left him high and dry, Lalu Prasad wants his medicines to stay cool and dry and help him stay fit for the long battle ahead. Nobody can fault him on this point at least: Tablet strips and eye drop packs usually carry the words “store in a cool dry place”.
Yesterday, after he reached the jail in the Jharkhand capital, Lalu Prasad had got his blood pressure checked. The relief on his face was visible when the reading showed 140/80.
The former Bihar chief minister ordered two eye drops — Combigan, useful for glaucoma, and Refresh Tear (to reduce drying). He also asked jail officials to arrange for a strip of Metacin for fever and body ache, just in case.
Disqualified as an MP, and his flock under threat of being poached, Lalu Prasad appeared to be making the best of a tricky situation before Thursday when he’ll know how long he might have to stay away from electoral politics.
The jail doctor said Lalu Prasad told him and his colleagues that his first night in prison, where he has been lodged in the VIP ward, was “comfortable”.
Although it couldn’t be known what the RJD boss had for dinner last night, sources said he cooked food assisted by a co-prisoner in one of the upper division rooms that has been converted as a makeshift kitchen for the high-profile inmate.
RJD MLA and Jharkhand minister Suresh Paswan, who called on Lalu Prasad today, said the dinner was simple: dal and roti. But Lalu Prasad, who had ghughni for breakfast this morning, did ensure that the gram (chana) was soaked in water overnight.
Supporters who visited Lalu Prasad today said he looked “normal”.
The first to reach the jail this morning was RJD minister for social welfare, women and child development Annapurna Devi, who, according to jail officials, arrived around 8.30 with tiffin boxes and stayed till 10.13. “He is doing good, is calm and composed. He is also confident of coming out of this political conspiracy soon,” she said after coming out but denied bringing any tiffin boxes for her party boss.
“Who said so? I didn’t get any tiffin box,” she said.
Senior leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was more forthcoming. “He asked for a Bhagvad Gita, which I’ve got. Laluji filhaal tagda hain aur chintit nahin hain. Hum sab unke saath hai (Laluji is fit and not at all worried. We all are with him),” said Raghuvansh, who arrived at 10.08am and stayed in Lalu Prasad’s room for 40 minutes.
Annapurna and Raghuvansh were together in Lalu Prasad’s cell for about five minutes. Tourism minister Suresh Paswan, too, said Lalu Prasad was tagda (fit). “He told us to keep each and every worker motivated for the big fight in the near future,” Paswan, who came around 11:15am with several supporters carrying bouquets, added.
IG (prisons) Shailendra Bhushan said the jail manual had not been violated.
“Contrary to media reports, no prison rule regarding visitors or food or facilities has been violated. He (Lalu Prasad) is a VIP inmate and entitled to certain privileges.”
New curtains have been put up at Lalu Prasad’s 10ft-by-10ft cell that has a bed, a table and chairs, a television set that beams only government-owned channels and an attached bath.
This morning, Lalu Prasad got several newspapers to read. It “made him smile”, said a jail source.
He had, after all, made the headlines.