Kings make no mistake. Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav invented this rule of "divine infallibility" for himself and his family long before he found himself on the wrong side of law.
There are many interesting anecdotes to prove that he behaved like a king. One such anecdote, which this writer knew from first-hand accounts from his time as a reporter in Patna, is illustrative of this mindset.
In 1993, teachers in Bihar were not paid their salaries for months on end and they went to Yadav to complain. The chief minister looked at the complainants in a show of empathy but expressed his helplessness by saying, “State coffers are empty." One of the delegation member countered saying, "But you have been hopping all over Bihar on chopper and that requires expenses." An unfazed Lalu responded, "Hum raja nu hai, raja ka kharcha thori rukta hai (I am a king and a king's expenditure cannot be curtailed)." He said with a disdain and a flash of anger that made the unpaid teachers back off.
That was Lalu Prasad Yadav at his peak. He astutely camouflaged this political buccaneerism with a "savior of secularism" and "champion of social justice" image. Left liberal intellectuals from all walks of life were literally eating out of his hand. He was regarded as the only leader who dared LK Advani from carrying out the Rath Yatra, and also stopped the BJP leader's Ayodhya chariot at Samastipur in 1991. And not without reasons. He derived his sense of infallibility and invincibility from the unadulterated adulation he got from a large section of English-speaking intelligentsia.
On Friday, as the CBI raided his Patna residence and indicted him and his family members in cases of amassing wealth through dubious means, Yadav looks like a king whose vanity is in tatters. He and his family members are immensely vulnerable and he is putting up a charade of infallibility. But it's a weak defence that is bound to crumble in the face of mounting incriminating evidence.
As of now, Yadav's sons — Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and minister Tej Pratap Yadav — will find it untenable to continue in the Nitish Kumar government. And it's likely that they would be forced to resign from their posts sooner than later. The CBI is learnt to have filed an FIR against Tejashwi Yadav , making him a prime accused in the corruption case.With this case of corruption hanging over Tejashwi's head like a Damocles' Sword, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would have to take action against his deputy.
In all probability, Nitish Kumar, recuperating from a bout of ill health in Rajgir, would send out a message loud and clear, limiting Tejashwi's options. Tej Pratap may follow suit as his name figures in other cases too. Official sources say that the evidence against the Yadav family is incontrovertible.
With law-enforcing agencies going the whole hog against Yadav and his family members, it would not be premature to write his political epitaph. Lalu Prasad Yadav and his politics have clearly outlived their utility. But it would be wrong to rejoice at the developments, since Yadav's ignominious fall from grace is nothing short of a social tragedy for Bihar.
In the 90s, he was one of the tallest leaders of the country, representing progressive social forces which were marginalised in the state. A combination of OBCs, Dalits and Muslims looked at him as a "messiah" who will ultimately rid Bihar of ills the state benighted by feudalism and upper castes' dominance.
Yadav's journey up the ladder in politics was quite inspiring. He came from a poor family, acquired education and dabbled in student politics in his early days. He gradually made his way up and became a prominent torchbearer of social justice after the implementation of the Mandal Commission. Given his humble background, he instantly evoked trust from the poor and maginalised sections of Bihar. He was seen by people as being one of them, a man who would realise the agony of the masses. The tragedy was that Lalu not only betrayed that trust but also imagined himself to be a "king" who has divine entitlement to rule the state.
Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 17:35 PM