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Strike-back to steal thunder

- After cooing over coup, Dal eats crow

Patna, Feb. 25: The Speaker’s notification “splitting” the 22 members was interpreted as one of the “biggest ever” setbacks to Lalu Prasad and numerical gain for the minority Nitish Kumar government.

The ruling establishment revelled in the “notation” that the 13 MLAs “breaking away” from the RJD would swell the 115-member JD(U) in the 241-member House enough to leave Nitish free from anxiety to save his government to enter the Lok Sabha battle fray.

The scene was opposite at the end of the day today. “Nitish aur Uday Narayan Chaudhary laaj bachane ke liye Patna se bhag gaye (Nitish and the Speaker fled from Patna to save their face),” said Lalu Prasad.

Incidentally, the chief minister had left for New Delhi to attend the conclave for the creation of third front when Lalu and his cadre were parading on the streets. Speaker Chaudhary, too, played truant when nine of the 13 RJD MLAs he had declared as “unattached” went to meet him in his Assembly chamber.

The RJD boss was not wide off the mark. The ruling establishment appeared to be fully confident yesterday that the “rebels” in the RJD had deserted Lalu Prasad. They admittedly found the Speaker’s notification as an “instrument” potent enough of driving the last nail in the RJD’s coffin.

But Lalu effectively presented himself as a typical “martyr” of conspiracy on the streets. “Lalu zamini neta hain, garibon ka awaaz hain (Lalu is leader grounded to soil. He is the voice of the poor),” said a man in the crowd, escorting Lalu Prasad.

“Laluji kabhi khatam nahin hongein (Lalu will never be finished),” said another.

The common people’s expression made it abundantly clear that the RJD boss had earned people’s sympathy by hitting the streets and mingling with the masses. “Aap meri taqat ho…aap meray malik ho, main dusron ka parvah nahin karta (You — people — are my strength. You are my masters. I don’t care for others,” Lalu was heard telling the masses.

Till yesterday evening, the JD(U) cadre and supporters were revelling in what they had found as the end of road for Lalu Prasad. Today, Nitish had his erstwhile friends mocking at him. The rebel JD(U) MP, Shivanand Tiwari, who had been denied fresh Rajya Sabha term by Nitish, cracked a joke on his former boss.

“The main architect of the game — my leader (read Nitish Kumar) — showed his innocence about the entire drama in front of the reporters. I feel like sacrificing my life on my leader’s innocence,” said Tiwari.

He was full in praise for the RJD leader, Abdul Bari Siddiqui. Virtually exposing Nitish’s “behind-the-scene operation” to “wean away” Siddiqui from Lalu’s fold on the “offer” of making him deputy chief minister and fielding him on the JD(U) ticket from Madhubani, which the Congress is wanting for its spokesman, Shakeel Ahmad, Tiwari said: “Siddiqui’s image has gone up in my heart. He has showed character. He has not fallen to Nitish’s lure despite a lucrative offer.”BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, too, said Nitish and Chaudhary’s “game” has been exposed.

“In brazen violation of the Constitution, Nitish and Chaudhary, tried to break the RJD. They have lost the face now,” Modi said.

Lalu used harsher words. “Ye log kya chehra dikhayengein kal (What face will they show to the people)”.