Patna, March 25: Sadhu Yadav, the unsavoury discard from Lalu Prasad’s stable, has decided to take the fight to the family which had given him unbridled power during the RJD regime.
The 46-year-old discredited brother-in-law of Lalu will fight sister Rabri Devi from Saran as an Independent candidate.
Saran, around 85km north of Patna, has been a bastion of Lalu Prasad since 1977, when he first contested and won the election to the Lok Sabha from the now delimited Chhapra constituency. He has won the seat (now called Saran) four times since, including in 2009. But he lost the Parliament berth following his conviction in the fodder scam in September last year.
Sadhu said the contest would be between him and the BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy and his sister would finish third. Sadhu, who has failed to find a permanent nest in any major political party since the estrangement with his jeeja (brother-in-law), voiced support for Narendra Modi. “Even if I win as an Independent, I will support Narendra Modi,” he declared.
Sadhu had left the RJD just before the 2009 election to the Lok Sabha and fought from West Champaran on a Congress ticket and lost. He, however, ensured the defeat of filmmaker Prakash Jha, then the RJD-LJP candidate (and now contesting the same seat for the JD-U). Last year, Sadhu wooed the BJP, met Narendra Modi and hailed him as a better candidate for Prime Minister than Rahul Gandhi. The Congress was swift in expelling him. However, the Bihar BJP unit strongly opposed Sadhu’s induction in view of his reputation during the Lalu-Rabri era.
For much of the 15 years of that regime, Sadhu and his brother Subhash — dubbed power sub-stations — were a law unto themselves — terrorising people, especially the trading community, grabbing land, assaulting bureaucrats, muscling their way into the liquor market, effecting transfers and postings of officials… the list of their antics is long. Their names — like that of Gabbar Singh’s — evoked fear on either side of the Ganga.
Sadhu even won an election from the Gopalganj Assembly seat. Subsequently, Lalu sent Sadhu to the Lok Sabha from Gopalganj in 2004. Subhash was made a Rajya Sabha member. The two brothers were the trouble-shooters of Lalu whenever a crisis arose and they were accused of terrorising dissident MLAs and MPs in the party.
However, once the RJD lost power, the brothers left Lalu and Rabri. Sadhu, because he was not given the West Champaran seat he was demanding in 2009 and Subhash because he was not given a re-nomination to the Upper House.
Sadhu is still livid with Lalu for depriving him of a Lok Sabha ticket in 2009. But unlike his younger brother, who is reportedly not even on talking terms with either Lalu or Rabri, Sadhu has been careful to retain contact with his sister and jeeja, attending the back-to-back weddings of their daughters two years ago. “If the two brothers are openly embarrassing the family and the party, it is because Laluji allowed them to become powerful,” remarked a former RJD minister.
Lalu brushed aside any possible threat from Sadhu in Saran. “Anyone can contest from anywhere,” he said dismissively.
Privately, though, RJD leaders are blaming the BJP for encouraging Sadhu to contest from Saran with the aim of splitting the Yadav votes. “Sadhu met a top BJP leader in Delhi on Monday and was assured support for contesting and a reward after the polls,” said a senior RJD leader, who refused to be named. RJD sources said efforts are on to persuade Sadhu not to contest from Saran. “However, if Sadhu is adamant in contesting let him do so. He will not get more than 2000 votes,” the RJD leader said.