The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo family multiplies in Parliament

New Delhi, June 17: Few can match Biharís first family when it comes to dynastic politics, with the Nehru-Gandhi clan ó despite the Congressí long years in power ó finishing a distant second.

Laloo Prasad Yadav, who quit as chief minister in 1997 and appointed wife Rabri Devi in his place after he faced charges in the fodder scam, has now taken ďparivarwaadĒ a step further by nominating brother-in-law Subhas Yadav as the Rashtriya Janata Dalís Rajya Sabha candidate.

The RJD chief remains all powerful in Bihar and has gone out of his way to promote his brothers-in-law while his wife continues to occupy the chief ministerís chair. Laloo Prasadís elder brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gopalganj last month and Subhas appears all set to enter the Upper House by month-end.

There was talk until last month that the Bihar leader, who is now railway minister, would get daughter Misa to enter politics by contesting the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat that he vacated after winning from Chhapra as well.

But RJD sources have denied this, saying that senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Ramendra Kumar Ravi is likely to contest from Madhepura where Sharad Yadav was made to bite the dust.

Laloo Prasadís decision may have gone down well with Rabriís family, but has left Ram Vilas Paswan fuming. The Dalit leader had been promised RJD support for getting a Lok Janshakti Party candidate elected to the Upper House on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls. Paswan had demanded nine Lok Sabha seats, but Laloo Prasad had only allotted eight after promising him a Rajya Sabha berth.

Relations between the RJD and the LJP chiefs had already soured when Laloo Prasad snatched the railway portfolio that Paswan, now the steel minister, was eyeing. An angry Paswan had declared that his alliance with the RJD in Bihar was over.

The Dalit leaderís estrangement with the RJD chief has rekindled hopes of an anti-Laloo Prasad, anti-BJP front in Bihar, with some Janata Dal (United) leaders sending Paswan feelers to forge a LJP-JD(U)-Congress alliance.

Certain Dal (United) leaders ó George Fernandes is not among them ó think the BJP is a liability for them in a state that is highly polarised along caste lines and it is thought the proposed alliance should prove formidable. The Congress features prominently because it is perceived that it can fetch Muslim votes.

But the hitch is that the Congress is not ready to ditch Laloo Prasad yet. A section of the party is fed up with the RJD chiefís arm-twisting which is aimed at keeping the Congress on the sidelines, but the high command does not think it wise to antagonise him right away. The Congressí priority is to revive the party in Uttar Pradesh first; Bihar can wait a while.

The wily Laloo Prasad understands this perfectly well and has shrewdly offered support to the Congressí R.K. Dhawan who filed his Rajya Sabha papers from Bihar yesterday.

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