| RJD leader Veena Shahi (left) hugs former chief minister Rabri Devi at 10 Circular Road in Patna after the Supreme Court granted Lalu Prasad bail on Friday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Dec. 13: The RJD erupted in celebration as news of the apex court granting bail to its chief, Lalu Prasad, came in.
RJD MLAs briefly entered the well of the house shouting “Lalu Yadav Zindabad” as JD(U) and BJP MLAs looked on. RJD MLAs even distributed sweets to those crowding the assembly premises.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar refused comment. BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav said it was a judicial process. Only a senior Congress politician volunteered a comment. He said: “Every political party is trying to analyse the political impact now that Lalu will be outside and will campaign for his party himself.”
10 Circular Road — Rabri Devi’s official residence — bore a deserted look ever since the RJD chief was sent behind bars in the fodder scam. But today the mood there was one of celebration.
“Laluji hamesha mere dil mein rahte hai,” said his wife and former chief minister Rabri, a big smile dominating her face. “I had faith in the judiciary and knew Laluji would get the justice from the Supreme Court. I am happy to say our party workers stood united in the absence of our leader,” said Rabri.
Lalu’s eldest son Tej Pratap sporting a victory sign from the balcony while Rabri attended to endless number of calls from well-wishers.
Except for Rabri and Tej Pratap, no other family member was around.
However, as many as 50 party workers reached Rabri’s home within 15 minutes of the news of Lalu getting bail flashing on news channels. Former minister Veena Shahi came holding a packet of sweets. She first hugged Rabri and then offered her sweets.
As Rabri has a sugar problem, she had just a bit of the laddu and asked someone to distribute the sweets among party workers.
Asked what she would prepare when Lalu returns to 10, Circular road, Rabri said: “Whatever Laluji asks me to prepare, I will cook. He always make his demand, I do not suggest anything to him. However, I am anxiously awaiting his return.”
Slogan like “jail ka phatak tut gaya, Lalu Yadav chooth gaya,” echoed through Rabri’s residence.
After Lalu was convicted in the fodder scam, the party had decided to pass the baton on to Rabri. However, Rabri kept saying Lalu would remain the party’s boss and supremo.
Rabri had left a council meeting quiet early today to catch the news of Lalu’s bail on news channels. Former minister Anwar Ahmad, who was with Rabri at the time of the Supreme Court order, said, “It was a very touching moment when I saw Rabriji’s face light up after the apex court granted bail to our leader.”
Tejaswi reached Deoghar today. He will stay there overnight and reach Ranchi tomorrow to meet his father. Tej Pratap will fly to Ranchi tomorrow.
Lalu will return to Patna by road, accompanied by many senior leaders and both his sons.
“Its an effort to whip up the grandeur of the past,” remarked a senior RJD leader, recalling the number of cars that accompanied Lalu when he first went to Ranchi to surrender in a fodder scam case a decade ago.
Rabri said that though Lalu would not contest elections now, he would campaign extensively in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. She also said there was no harm in having an alliance with the Congress.
“The party will fight the election along with all those who have a secular mindset,” Rabri said.
In the assembly, the RJD’s Jadishpur MLA, Dinesh Kumar Singh, distributed sweets and shouted slogans in support of Lalu. He also tried to offer sweets to chief minister Nitish Kumar when he was entering the assembly but Nitish politely declined, without even looking at him. Singh also smeared gulal on other RJD MLAs and said, “It is a time of celebrations. Our leader has been granted bail and there has to be celebration inside and outside the Assembly.”