The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 1 , 2011
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Lalu skips fest in home state

New Delhi, Oct. 31: RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife, former chief minister Rabri Devi, will celebrate this year’s Chhath in Delhi for the first time in their two-decade-long political career of the duo.

The move has taken party leaders and workers by surprise. Rabri will perform Chhath at Lalu’s official 25, Tughlaq Road, residence.

Officially, no concrete reason has been cited for the shift and thereby, it is being connected to Lalu-Rabri’s political marginalisation in their homeland. People close to Lalu said it was because of personal reasons but failed to provide any credible excuse.

“We are surprised. It will add to the demoralisation of party leaders and workers,” said a senior RJD leader in Delhi. Asked about the reason behind Lalu opting to celebrate Chhath in Delhi, the leader said whatever they have been told did not appear to be credible excuse.

“We have been told that since Lalu’s sons-in-law live outside the country and thereby, the latter would find it difficult to travel to Patna. It is hardly any reason. If somebody can come to Delhi, what is the problem in going to Patna?” asked another RJD leader.

Ever since Lalu’s RJD bit the dust in the 2010 Assembly polls that saw even Rabri’s defeat from two constituencies she had contested, the duo have been keeping away from Patna. People close to the family said most of the time they remain in Delhi and go to Patna only on certain occasions. They even chose to remain in Delhi for Diwali.

Recently, the police firing in Forbesganj that resulted in the death of Muslim villagers led Lalu to view it as an opportunity and he rushed to the spot from Delhi. His hopes, however, were dashed when his show in Forbesganj proved to be a damp squib followed by the Doranda Assembly by-election loss despite his best efforts.

“He seems to have given up. His limited interest now appears to be getting elected as an MP so that he is able to retain his bungalow in Delhi,” remarked a party MP. He added that in the past year, neither any meeting of the party’s core group has taken place nor does Lalu call leaders to discuss about the future programmes of the party.

A party leader said if Lalu had celebrated Chhath in Patna, it would have given the party leaders and workers an opportunity to meet him and feel that the leader was with them. “Who will go to Delhi to meet Lalu?” asked an RJD leader.

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