The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo quiet on family loss

Patna, July 13: The defeat of the chief minister’s brother in yesterday’s legislative council elections is sure to make Laloo Prasad Yadav wonder if voters are rejecting family rule.

But for now, Laloo Prasad is choosing to remain silent.

Rabri Devi’s elder brother, Prabhunath Yadav, lost the Gopalganj seat to trader and liquor merchant Sunil Singh, finishing third in the contest.

The elections are not contested on a party basis, but Rashtriya Janata Dal candidates who had no links with Bihar’s most powerful family managed to win council seats. Samir Seth in Madhubani and Laldas Rai in Bhojpur are known to have RJD connection. Most victorious candidates are traders or liquor wholesalers.

Prabhunath’s defeat was the latest reverse for the family a year after Rabri’s bhabhi (sister-in-law), Mansa Devi, lost the contest for Patna mayor.

Mansa had been projected as an RJD candidate by Laloo Prasad himself, but lost to another Yadav, Krishna Murari, who won on the basis of votes from other elected Yadav leaders. “It was the RJD’s elected members in the municipal body who reversed Laloo Prasad’s decision,” says a party insider.

This time around, voters have rejected candidates backed by Bihar’s first family. Rabri’s brother Subhas Yadav backed Babban Yadav in the council polls while another brother, Sadhu, backed Ashoke Yadav. But both Patna candidates lost even as a former RJD minister, Dilip Singh, won his seat.

“There is a clear sign in the poll results of an expression of voter distaste for candidates who are Laloo Prasad or Rabri’s kin,” said Lakhsmi Sahu, a senior politician.

Laloo Prasad looked jittery today even as he put up a brave front following Prabhunath’s defeat. “What to react to this (the defeat)'” he responded when asked to comment on the reverse.

There was an embarrassing silence at 1 Anne Marg as election results came in. Senior party leaders present at the Rabri residence looked tense.

RJD leaders are speculating that rivalry among Rabri’s brothers contributed to the poll reverse. But Subhas said neither Rabri nor Laloo Prasad had any role in the defeat.

“He (Prabhunath) had entered the poll battle on his own without consulting Laloo Yadav. So we kept quiet. He has lost now. What can we say'” Subhas said.

As the pre-election euphoria surrounding the elusive Prabhunath victory fizzles out in Gopalganj — Laloo Prasad’s home district — the RJD chief is keeping everyone guessing about how he will try to win back Yadav voters.

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