Patna, Oct. 3: When Lalu Prasad went to surrender in the fodder scam case in 1997, he reportedly wept realising he would be forwarded to jail.
On the first occasion, his fleet of cars took more than four hours to travel from Patna civil court to Beur Central jail. His followers stopped his cavalcade at several places.
When he was sent to jail a few times more, he and his followers took it in stride. When granted bail, Lalu stepped out of jail and rode all the way to 1 Aney Marg on an elephant with his followers shouting “jail ka phatak tut gaya, Lalu chhoot gaya (jail’s doors broken, Lalu out in the open).”
On Thursday, most RJD leaders were stunned when the quantum of punishment was announced. “If Laluji does not get relief from higher courts, he would not be able to contest polls for another 11 years. By that time he will be 77,” said a party MLA, pointing out that the situation could worsen with the judgment of five more fodder scam cases in the pipeline.
Life without the physical presence of Lalu Parasd would be difficult for the RJD. Cash crunch and lack of vigour in electioneering would be its two primary problems.
“Laluji used to organise funds from his well-wishers. The same people might not be ready to fund us now,” said a senior RJD leader, pointing out that raising funds for the Lok Sabha polls was another problem. The leaders pointed out that there was no immediate threat to the party’s social base, but the voters would be demoralised by the absence of Lalu in the campaigning.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who was the general secretary of the Patna University Students’ Union when Lalu was the president, said: “It is too early to write its obituary. It will all depend whether the higher courts give any relief or not. The main issue is that the man who once mesmerised the poor people and became their Messiah has been convicted in the fodder scam for five years.”