The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Entry in gloom, exit in glee

Patna, Dec. 18: Moments after Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi stepped out of the courtroom, a group of supporters, anxious wait over, broke into chants of “Satyameva jayate (the truth shall prevail)”.

The railway minister signalled them to keep calm. Party had just begun.

The day’s drama began unfolding from 10.30 am when Bihar’s most famous couple arrived at the special CBI court for the verdict in the assets case against them.

They looked glum. They did not wave back at the supporters and walked straight past the media teams.

The RJD chief’s cabinet colleague, Akhilesh Singh, seemed cross with himself for reaching 10 Circular Road minutes after the couple had left for court.

Singh hurried to catch up with them. So did Lalu Prasad’s brother-in-law Subhash Yadav and scores of party supporters.

Inside the courtroom that teemed with lawyers and journalists, only muted whispers could be heard. The accused couple sat down without a word to each other, though Lalu Prasad was seen whispering to his counsel.

At 11 am, judge Munilal Paswan walked in. He took up a couple of bail cases and then it was the moment of reckoning: the verdict in case No. RC 5/98.

“Finding Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi not guilty, they are released,” the judge said. He rose from his seat and the couple folded their hands in a namaskar.

As the premises rang with cries of “Lalu-Rabri zindabad”, the minister said: “Hame insaaf mila, doodh ka doodh pani ka pani hua hain (we have got justice, everything has become clear).”

He immediately left for 10 Circular Road. The media crews and RJD workers followed. As the bouquets poured in, some started bursting crackers. But one cry of “Kaun hain re (who’s there)'” from their annoyed boss took care of that.

Sweets arrived, followed by tea which, as ordered by aide Bhola Yadav, contained “pure milk”.

The railway minister had cabinet colleagues Singh and Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav by his side. Another Union minister, Kanti Singh, was with Rabri Devi.

“One has to learn the art of politics from me. I am the kingmaker,” Lalu Prasad said, adding that the judgment had reinforced his faith in the judiciary. Rabri couldn’t agree more.

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