Misa waits for Ram Kripal beneath his photograph at his bungalow in Delhi on Friday. Picture by Yasir Iqbal
Patna, March 7: The niece waited six hours for her chacha but Ram Kripal Yadav remained elusive.
Misa Bharati flew to Delhi from Patna today to pacify Ram Kripal, one of the closest confidants of her father Lalu Prasad and someone she addresses as chacha (uncle). The Rajya Sabha MP wanted to contest from the Pataliputra seat but RJD chief Lalu Prasad named daughter Misa as the candidate yesterday.
Since last evening, Ram Kripal could not be contacted.
This morning, Lalu Prasad’s family went into damage-control mode when realisation dawned on them that the RJD chief’s Man Friday may switch to the BJP, which has admitted that it was in talks with Ram Kripal.
Late tonight, Lalu Prasad spoke to him over phone, after which Ram Kripal said: “I was willing to accept the proposal of Misa not contesting from the Pataliputra constituency. I can contest from there but the final announcement has to be made by Lalu Prasad.”
Misa reached Delhi in the morning and drove down to Ram Kripal’s 18 Mother Teresa Crescent Road bungalow while he was occupied with TV journalists in the lawns. Seeing Ram Kripal busy, Misa walked straight into the bungalow.
Ram Kripal cut short the TV interviews, called his driver, sat in the car and drove away. “I have to meet someone…” he said and was gone without even bothering to meet Misa. He switched off his cellphone and no one had an idea where he had gone.
For six hours, Misa sat on a sofa just beneath a photograph of Ram Kripal. But he didn’t show up.
Misa said she was willing to give up the seat if Ram Kripal wished. “He is like my father. I never knew that he was interested in contesting from Pataliputra. I am willing to withdraw my candidature if Ram Kripal chacha says so. I am even willing to campaign for him,” she said.
In Patna, Lalu Prasad, who had dared his leaders to cross over to other parties for not getting tickets on Thursday, too, changed his tune today. “Ram Kripal never told me that he wanted to contest from Pataliputra. Somebody is misleading him. Ram Kripal is a Rajya Sabha MP who has two years left. I made him the secretary-general of the party and gave him all my powers,” he said.
Lalu Prasad said he hoped Ram Kripal would not “strengthen communal wishes”.
Wife Rabri Devi, who has been given the Saran seat, dismissed talk of Ram Kripal leaving the party. “He has not left our party. Every family has small fights,” she said.
In Delhi, Ram Kripal had said yesterday that he was “pained” over the ticket distribution. Today he told journalists before Misa came calling: “I will decide my future later.”
Ram Kripal’s supporters in Patna are not moved by the “Misa drama”. “It is a bid to emotionally blackmail the Yadav voters of Bihar who are angry over the denial of ticket to Ram Kripal. There is nothing to suggest that Laluji is sorry. He has removed a confidant of Ram Kripal, Randhir Yadav, from the post of media-in-charge,” said an aide.
BJP sources said talks were on with Ram Kripal. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, now an ally of the BJP, has extended an invitation to him to join the NDA.
However, Lalu Prasad’s supporters insist that efforts are on to pacify Ram Kripal. “It is not for everyone that Laluji will send Misa to pacify. Lalu Prasad and Ram Kripal’s relations are not that of a leader and a follower. It is far more intimate. If Ram Kripal ultimately joins the BJP, it will go against his nature,” said a former RJD MP.
Lalu Prasad’s problems do not end with Ram Kripal. Another former MP, Surendra Prasad Yadav, quit the party and joined the BJP, accusing Lalu Prasad of promoting his family.