The Telegraph
Friday , March 7 , 2014
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Lalu keeps dynasty on poll turf

Patna, March 6: Lalu Prasad, who pushed through the cheekiest succession act in India’s political annals by foisting his wife in the chief minister’s chair, has now spread out his dynasty by fielding daughter Misa Bharati as a Lok Sabha candidate.

Misa, the eldest born to Lalu and wife Rabri Devi and named after a draconian Emergency-time law under which the RJD chief was imprisoned by the Indira Gandhi regime, will contest from Patliputra, a seat on the outskirts of Patna which Lalu had lost from in 2009.

If daughter can, so can the mother. Rabri has been given the ticket from Saran, the seat Lalu won in 2009 but had to forfeit following his conviction in the fodder scam in September last year. Lalu, who is now out on bail, himself can’t contest elections for 11 years unless his conviction is overturned by a higher court.

The names were among the 25 candidates announced by Lalu for the 27 seats the RJD has kept for itself after the deal with the Congress. Besides pitching for his wife and daughter, Lalu has fallen back on old warhorses and Muslim-Yadav candidates. ( )

The Congress will contest 12 seats and the NCP one.

Lalu has already named his sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap as the inheritors of his political legacy, However, Tejaswi, a former cricketer, is not yet 25 — the minimum age for contesting a Lok Sabha election — and therefore Misa, who has not hidden her desire to contest elections, was made the candidate. Tej Pratap hasn’t shown inclination for politics so far.

“It was a question of whether Lalu keeps his family united or his party united. He chose the family,” was the caustic remark of an RJD leader.

The family affair has touched off a revolt in the party, which yesterday announced a formal seat-sharing alliance with the Congress.

RJD MP Ram Kripal Yadav, who is perceived as the Man Friday of the RJD chief, went incommunicado and is reported to have resigned from the party. Ram Kripal, sources said, is seeking an entry into the BJP so that he can be fielded as the candidate from Patliputra.

Ram Kripal, seen as Lalu’s shadow, was absent when the RJD boss was announcing the list of 25 candidates. Usually accessible at any time of the day, Ram Kripal’s cellphone was switched off throughout the evening.

State RJD president Ram Chandra Purbey, who wanted to contest from Muzaffarpur — a seat that has fallen in the Congress’s kitty — was also absent from Lalu’s press meet.

Top BJP sources confirmed that Ram Kripal was “in contact” with them and he was being considered for the Patliputra seat.

Lalu denied Ram Kripal’s resignation, but said he had heard such “rumours”. But without naming his former close confidant, he remarked: “I do not care about party leaders who are crossing over to other parties, giving a burial to their principles. The people also do not care about these leaders.”

He said he had lost the Patliputra seat in the last polls and his daughter would win it for him. “We should encourage daughters in politics,” Lalu remarked, stressing that Misa was the “daughter-in-law” of Patliputra.

Misa, a doctor, is married to IT engineer Shailesh, who hails from Danapur, which falls under Patliputra parliamentary constituency.

Ram Kripal, a Rajya Sabha member, has represented Patna parliamentary seat thrice before delimitation. In 2009, he wanted to contest from Patliputra, which was carved out of the erstwhile Patna Lok Sabha constituency, but Lalu contested it himself and lost. Ram Kripal was compensated in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but he always wanted to fight from Patliputra. He is popular among a cross-section of the society and highly accessible.

“He has stood like a rock with Lalu even in the days when the boss was in jail. He should have been rewarded for his dedication and loyalty,” remarked a senior RJD leader.

Misa, the eldest of nine children of Lalu and Rabri, was born during the Emergency when Lalu was in jail under the dreaded law (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), which was used by the Indira-Sanjay Gandhi regime to send thousands of political rivals to jail.

Misa is a doctor by profession and completed her MBBS with record marks from Patna Medical College and Hospital. But she has never practised medicine. During the Parivartan Rally of the party last year, she was on stage and openly declared that she would be contesting the next Lok Sabha polls.

The revolt against Lalu, already weakened by the desertion of four MLAs and LJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan, is likely to increase.

“First he brought in his two sons, then his daughter. We accepted his wife Rabri Devi as the chief minister because Lalu was going to jail in 1997. We remained silent when he was in jail because the party was in crisis. But after the announcement of his daughter’s name, it has become clear that it is the family which matters first, not his party leaders and workers,” said a frustrated ex-MLA.

Even on Thursday morning, RJD MLC Ghulam Gaus expressed his frustration over Lalu’s “style of functioning”.

The problem for Lalu is getting bigger and bigger. First he lost power in Bihar and now he is losing control over his own party — a party in which no one dared to question his diktat even when he made himself the life-long president of the RJD.