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Lalu's taj trumps Shah Jahan's Taj: Rabri

RJD chief's wife cites hubby's puppet-CM move as proof of ultimate love

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 9.03.17
Rabri at the Assembly.
(Nagendra Kumar Singh)

Patna, March 8: Shah Jahan was not a patch on Lalu Prasad, the RJD chief's wife Rabri Devi declared today even as the world celebrated International Women's Day by harping on the need to empower women.

The Mughal emperor built the Taj Mahal in Agra for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who bore him 14 children, and the world celebrates the mausoleum as the ultimate symbol of love. But Rabri, mother of Lalu's nine children, today said her husband Lalu loved her more than Shah Jahan did Mumtaz.

"What should I say about him (Lalu)? He has given me so much. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, but Lalu ji gave me the real taj (crown) and made a woman like me the chief minister of the state and allowed her to rule it," Rabri said.

The former chief minister, who is currently an MLC, was reacting to queries by journalists outside the Bihar Legislative Council on women empowerment in the context of International Women's Day.

Lalu, in the cheekiest manoeuvre in the annals of Indian politics, anointed his wife as the chief minister thrice between 1997 and 2005 while he grappled with cases related to the fodder scam of undivided Bihar. The RJD chief had to resign as chief minister after an arrest warrant was issued against him and he chose his semi-literate wife to head the government for the first time in July 1997. While the country gasped at the sheer audacity of the move, Lalu kept the reins of the state in his hands - thanks to Rabri playing the perfect puppet CM - even as he flitted in and out of jail.

Rabri, probably the only chief minister who went to Raj Bhavan wailing she wouldn't take oath (on July 25, 1997), was a hesitant politician who would shy away from the media and public events. Gradually, however, she grew more comfortable in the new role her husband had thrust upon her.

Rabri, who has studied till Class IV, is now a vocal politician and often sticks it into the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). When the RSS commissioned trousers to replace the long-shorts its cadres wear, Rabri claimed credit because she had ribbed the Sangh over the attire.

In the legislature, she often springs to the defence whenever the Opposition attacks Lalu or her minister sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.

Today, Rabri dared the Centre to ensure women get their fair share of representation in lawmaking bodies. "If Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has the courage, it should bring a bill to provide 50 per cent reservation to women in state legislatures and the Parliament," Rabri said. "We will support it. Bihar has already provided 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies and 35 per cent reservation to them in government jobs." She also dared the Centre to bring a law to control the population, "instead of just making statements".