The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo show of Bhairon bonhomie

Patna, Sept. 21: It was a programme of Rajputs, by Rajputs and for a Rajput. But ensconced firmly in the limelight was staunch socialist Laloo Prasad Yadav, that too in an eyebrow-raising show of rapport with Vice-President and senior BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Laloo’s passport to the event: his mentor Chandra Shekhar seemed to unite in a bloodline with the new generation of Rajput leaders in Bihar, such a Rambahadur Singh and Ashoke Singh.

But all eyes remained on Shekhawat and Laloo, who arrived well before the Vice-President and made it point to sit next to him on the dais. Sources close to Laloo pointed out that after Shatrughan Sinha, Shekhawat is the only BJP leader with whom Laloo shares a personal rapport.

A warm and genial person, Shekhawat is known to have friends across the political spectrum, a reason that could explain the huge number of votes he won in the vice-presidential poll.

Laloo emphasised: “When he was a chief minister, we had made him (Sekhawat) a leader of the chief ministers.” Now that he has become Vice-President, he can no longer be a political person, he added.

In fact, their ties go beyond politics. When one of Laloo’s daughters was in school in Jaipur in the mid-eighties, Shekhawat was her local guardian.

In a reflection of their old ties, Laloo demanded: “Mahamahim, you are now Vice-President and I am a Rajya Sabha member. When you preside over the House, I should get opportunities to speak for the poor.”

The Vice-President smiled back, and said Laloo was still a friend.

“Not only that, I will see to it the problems he will raise are resolved,” he added.

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