Patna, Oct. 1: Lalu Prasad has decided against making sweeping changes in the RJD and refrained from naming wife Rabri Devi as acting president over apprehensions the move could send a wrong message to party workers.
The RJD will instead go ahead with its prescheduled programmes as if “nothing has happened”. Its leaders will meet this weekend to discuss programmes to be undertaken under the changed circumstances arising from Lalu Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam.
A senior party leader, who met Lalu Prasad in jail today, said: “Sweeping changes in the party’s structure could send a wrong message to workers. If needed, changes should be introduced gradually.”
Rabri Devi — who was earlier made chief minister when her husband was jailed — also changed her stand today, a day after announcing that she and her sons would run the RJD like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul steer the Congress. She said today she did not want any “pad (post)” in the party and that she and her sons would work without any post.
Earlier, there was a plan to name Rabri Devi acting party president, with a core group to help her. Lalu Prasad’s younger son Tejaswi had said in Ranchi that his mother ran the party earlier, with advice from senior leaders like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Abdul Bari Siddiqui, when Lalu Prasad was in judicial custody.
In sharp contrast, Lalu Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap today denied suggestions he and his brother would take over the party’s reins. “We shall work under the guidance of senior leaders,” he said.
Siddiqui, the party’s leader in the Assembly, also met Lalu Prasad today. “Laluji has not been banished to kalapani (a proverbial exile). We live in an electronic age. Besides, our leaders will visit Laluji regularly for guidance.”
“Laluji laid stress on strengthening the party. There will be no problem in running the party on a day-to-day basis. There are office-bearers to do the routine work,” Siddiqui added.
Chief spokesperson and former MP Vijay Krishna said those predicting “the party and its social combination would disintegrate are living in a fools’ paradise”.
“There are several parties whose leaders’ careers stretch more than four decades. We have overcome Lalu’s absence in the past and shall do so this time.”
Sources said Lalu Prasad had urged colleagues to work together in this hour of crisis. “The entire party is intact. We have Rabri Devi as our leader. Every worker is a Lalu. We shall expose the conspiracy behind Lalu being sent to jail by the NDA, which also includes Nitish Kumar,” said MP Ram Kripal Yadav.
He mocked Narendra Singh, agriculture minister in the Nitish-led Bihar government, for saying “good RJD leaders” should join the ruling JD(U). “Not a single RJD leader will go,” Ram Kripal said.