The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bouncer gets Laloo sons in face

Patna, March 15: The winds of change sweeping Bihar today gave a clear hint of Laloo Prasad Yadav's fall from grace and, what was worse, it happened in the presence of guests from the neighbourhood, barely a few months after the leader had won millions of hearts in Pakistan as the star of a political delegation.

The subcontinent's cricket greats enjoyed their stay and the match in the state all right. None of the frills was amiss, except, of course, the man who had made Bihar an international talking point all these years.

Laloo Prasad, also the president of the Bihar Cricket Association that is fighting a war of recognition, must not have felt the pain so much as he kept away in Delhi on the big sporting day, but his two sons, in absolute love with cricket, were definitely heart-broken at the end of it all.

Tejaswi and Tej Pratap, who wanted to be photographed with all-time great Kapil Dev, must have realised how things work when the family is out of power.

The policemen failed to recognise the brothers and the two were shoved around when they attempted to approach the well-guarded Kapil in the Indian enclosure.

Tears welled up in the eyes of Tejaswi, the younger one, who has excelled and even captained Delhi's under-15 team. They were just about to leave disappointed, when some journalists and photographers made a request to the former Indian captain.

The snap was somehow taken but no one smiled, neither Kapil nor his two young fans.

The charity match for tsunami victims, which India lost with ease succumbing before a Pakistan total of 231 in 30 overs flat, was a Raj Bhavan affair all through.

Governor Buta Singh's son Arvinder was the spirit behind the show. Singh was present in the VIP box for a long time but the 'changeover' was stark as Laloo Prasad's bete noire Ram Vilas Paswan and wife Reena gave the governor constant company.

The honours, too, were done by the new 'rulers' of Bihar. The governor and Paswan took turns to hand over the trophies to the winning and the runners-up teams respectively. Singh then announced a donation of Rs 11 lakh for the calamity victims and Paswan followed suit with a gift of Rs 6 lakh.

The two were even caught chatting and the conversation that was overheard focused on central rule at one point. Paswan asked the governor how things were changing in Bihar. 'I have tried to do a lot in a week. I will definitely do more,' the governor told the Lok Janshakti Party leader.

Laloo Prasad and Paswan are said to have locked horns over the selection of the governor's advisers as both of them have their own preferences. The matter has been delayed so much that the chief secretary has been asked to officiate as an adviser till further arrangements are made.

'Laloo Prasad would have loved to be in focus at such an event. But the irony is that he planned nothing even close to today's match during the heady days of his family's rule. This, despite his being the president of the state cricket association. At the present moment, Laloo Prasad has suddenly become so irrelevant in the entire scheme,' said a cricket official who asked not to be named.

That the city was craving for such an event was clear because the stadium was packed despite a low ticket sale.

'After initial hesitation, the authorities made entry to the stadium free. We had not expected such a rush but the crowd was highly disciplined,' he added.

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