Achche din hope for Lalu
The JMM-led government in Jharkhand could spell achche din for RJD chief and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad, who is undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi while serving jail term in fodder scam cases.
The RJD won the Chatra seat and its winning MLA Satyanand Bhokta has been made a minister in the Hemant Soren-led government.
With the change in guard in the state and the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance in power, Lalu may now look forward to a comfortable jail stay.
Former RJD MLA Sanjay Prasad Singh said that this bode good news for their ailing leader. “Out of political prejudice, the previous BJP-Ajsu Party regime headed by Raghubar Das had put unnecessary restrictions on Laluji. People were not allowed to meet him, even his paying ward in RIMS was raided in May on mere suspicion raised by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar that Laluji has been using mobile phones inside the ward. The allegation was found baseless. But the BJP government tortured him by using such bad tactics.”
He added: “But now that Jharkhand has a secular government, we expect that he should be allowed to use the facilities he is entitled to.”
On whether the RJD would now press for relaxations for Lalu, Chatra’s RJD MLA Bhokta, who took oath as minister on Sunday, said: “There is a jail manual and our government will follow it.”
Inspector-general (prison) Shashi Ranjan could not be contacted. A senior IPS officer hinted Lalu would now get relaxations based just on oral orders. “There are certain things which cannot be announced publicly. Didn’t you see so many people came to meet Laluji at RIMS once the grand alliance won?”
According to the jail manual of Jharkhand, a prisoner is allowed to meet three persons once a week for 20 minutes. On humanitarian grounds or under exceptional situations, the jail may extend the duration of meetings and a prisoner could be allowed to meet his people other than the scheduled day. In case of Lalu, he was allowed to meet people on Saturdays and generally restrictions were relaxed only during that time. But on several occasions the Birsa jail authorities refused to allow politicians and family members to meet Lalu when they demanded to meet him on any other day.
On whether Lalu would get undue favours in RIMS, a senior BJP leader said those fears were perhaps not unfounded but they would keep tabs.
He refused to speak on the ramifications of this on the Bihar polls due next year.