|RJD party workers celebrate Lalu Prasad’s arrival at 10 Circular Road in Patna. Telegraph picture
“Dubli ho gayee ho (You have lost weight),” Lalu Prasad, his voice turning soft, told wife Rabri Devi who was patiently waiting to greet her husband with a smile and a bunch of roses as he returned home around midnight on Wednesday after spending 77 days in jail.
The RJD chief was on the road for well over 12 hours, having started from Ranchi at 10am on Tuesday. But throughout the 330km journey to Patna, he stopped on the way, meeting people, addressing impromptu meetings, all the while playing the messiah of the downtrodden.
Ever the street politician, Lalu did not step inside his home at 10 Circular Road — the official residence of Rabri — to meet his wife and other family members he had “missed” for well over two months. Instead, he spent an hour and 35 minutes with his supporters and reporters before meeting them around 12.45am.
Lalu reached 10 Circular Road with his son Tejaswi and other party leaders around 11.10pm when an artiste from Chhapra was singing Der na ho jaye kahin der na ho jaye from 1991 blockbuster Heena. Immediately, the real celebrations started.
The music turned a tad louder. The party workers broke into a jig.
Crackers sparkled. Lalu supporters hugged each other.
| Rabri Devi welcomes Lalu Prasad home with roses upon his arrival in Patna. Picture by Amit Bhelari |
As soon as Lalu got down from his SUV covered with marigold garlands, the workers started touching his feet amid slogans “Lalu tum aage badho, hum tumahre saath hai (Lalu you march ahead, we are with you)”.
Lalu in his inimitable style shouted at the workers and asked them to stop the fireworks. “Are, bandh karo yeah sab, bahut ho gaya phataka phorna (stop these, enough of fireworks),” he said.
Pulling up his pyjama, he walked towards the makeshift “dais” where some artistes were singing on top of their voice and said: “Ab bandh karo do naach gana, bahut ho gaya (Now, stop music and dance, enough of them).”
Immediately, the artistes stopped singing. So did those playing other instruments.
As the music stopped, Lalu requested everyone to return home because it was a late winter night. But his followers who had come from far-off places for his one glimpse expressed their desire to meet him.
Lalu politely asked them to come one by one. He met as many as 200 supporters standing. Some of them touched his feet. Others shook hands.
Lalu thanked each one of them for being united in his absence.
By the time he finished meeting his supporters, it was around 12.15am. People started leaving one by one and he went to a washroom. But reporters and his close aides stayed on.
The clock struck 12.30 and Lalu came out of the washroom. While he was wrapping a shawl around him, one of his well-wishers said: “Sir, Rabriji is waiting for you with a rose for more than an hour. Why don’t you meet her?”
A laughing Lalu said: “Why are you so bothered about her. She is my wife. I know she is waiting for me and I shall meet her.”
After speaking to reporters for a while, around 00.45hours, Lalu said: “Now it’s time to meet Rabri, somebody please call her.”
But another well-wisher suggested that he should go to the bungalow and meet her as she was waiting for him since morning. Lalu liked the idea.
“I think, that’s better. I should go and meet Rabri instead of calling her over here,” he said, walking towards the bungalow.
As soon as the RJD boss reached near the door of the bungalow, Rabri first touched his feet, offered aarti and gave him not one, but two roses.
Looking at Rabri, Lalu said she had lost weight. He also said: “I must not forget to mention about my son Tej Pratap, who remained with her mother in my absence like Lord Ganesh stayed with Parvati when Lord Shiv was not with her.”
Tej Pratap immediately touched the feet of his father.
Happy ending of a long day or bright beginning of a new day, wondered a few aides of Lalu.