RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh with the Gita outside the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Oct. 1: Freedom lost, Lalu Prasad has asked for a fridge. For his eyes.
He wanted something for his soul, too — a Gita — which he has got. Senior aide Raghuvansh Prasad Singh brought him one this morning.
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.
He wants the fridge to store his eye drops and other medicines.
The former Bihar chief minister has ordered two eye drops — Combigan, useful for glaucoma, and Refresh Tear (to reduce drying). He has also asked jail officials to arrange for a strip of Metacin for fever and body ache, just in case.
An ophthalmologist in Delhi said Combigan need not be kept in a refrigerator. “Some glaucoma medications need to be kept in a fridge, but not Combigan,” said Nikhil Pal, who was earlier with AIIMS. “But it’ll depend on what kind of room he (Lalu Prasad) is in. If the temperature is higher than 25 degrees Celsius, then it might be a good idea to keep it in the outer door of the fridge.”
The jail hospital and the kitchen have refrigerators, but there is no provision for a fridge inside cells, and the authorities have not yet committed to giving Lalu Prasad one.
His other wish — for the holy book — has been fulfilled, though.
“He asked for a Bhagwad Gita, which I’ve got,” said senior aide Raghuvansh, who arrived around 10am and met Lalu Prasad for about 40 minutes in the visitors’ room.
Long gone are Lalu Prasad’s pothi-patra jalao (burn religious scriptures) days.
Disqualified as an MP, and his flock under threat of being poached, Lalu Prasad appeared to be making the best of a tricky situation. 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”. Sources said Lalu Prasad had also asked for a helper-cook who could double as a masseur when required.
It couldn’t be known what the RJD boss had for dinner last night, but sources said he cooked food assisted by a co-prisoner in an upper division room that has been converted into 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 lunch boxes and stayed till 10.13. “He is calm and composed. He is also confident of coming out of this political conspiracy soon,” she said, but denied bringing any lunch boxes for her party boss.
Tourism minister Suresh Paswan said Lalu Prasad looked fit. “He told us to keep each and every worker motivated for the big fight in the near future,” Paswan, who came 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, table, chairs, a TV set that beams only government 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.