Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
(This piece is being republished on the occasion of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s 73rd birthday. It was originally published on 11 June 2018)
They say laughter is the best medicine, and Lalu Yadav offered generous doses of it through his stint in Indian politics. The two-time Bihar chief minister, former Railway minister and once, the focal point of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, which proved in 2015 Assembly polls that BJP under Narendra Modi isn’t invincible, Lalu Prasad Yadav is known for his wit and outspoken nature.
For Lalu, 2019 has been particularly grim year. After being convicted by the Ranchi court in several fodder scam cases, Lalu is out on provisional bail now and undergoing a medical treatment in a hospital in Ranchi. Without his leadership, RJD failed to win even a single seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. On his 71st birthday, The Quint looks back at the many shades of Bihar’s most prominent leader.
1. The Mimic
Remember the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls? That election cracked the code to defeat BJP – Opposition unity. Lalu Prasad Yadav took on Modi and decided to beat him at his own game. He mimicked Modi during a rally in Patna and at the same time, raised the point that the prime minister is a good speaker but he doesn’t deliver on his promises.
(Mimicking Modi) Bhaiyo Behno! Did you get electricity? Dear Modi ji, speak in lower pitch otherwise your voice box will burst. (Mimicking Modi) 50 crore, 70 crore, 90 crore. How much do you want? (Normal tone) And all ABVP guys sitting in front of him will start chanting ‘Modi Modi Modi’. You think we don’t get it?
2. The Environment Friendly Lalu
Probably one of the most amusing speeches of Lalu was delivered by him during the 2008 Railway budget. To highlight the achievements of his term as Railway minister, Lalu, in his typical way, presented his report card using Hindi poetry.
However, some of the MPs were not fluent in Hindi and Lalu translated the speech for them in English – a literal translation.
I will try to translate myself in English. Lalu Yadav has planted a fruit tree. Every year, it is duty of my to grow fruit tree.
3. The Tease
One of the most talked about political rivalry in independent India has been between Lalu and LK Advani. When the patriarch of saffron party led a ‘Rath Yatra’ to Babri mosque in 1990, Lalu Yadav who was then the chief minister of Bihar, arrested Advani and put a hold on the ‘Ram Rath yatra.’
Almost two decades later, when Congress-led UPA was facing flak for arresting Anna Hazare, Lalu addressed the MPs in Lok Sabha and reminded how he arrested LK Advani without much hassle and ruckus.
You (Advani) will definitely become prime minister. We oppose you only because your path is wrong. You (UPA) detained Anna Hazare and then tried to justify it. You could have consulted us. Ask Advani ji. When I ordered his arrest, I gave him due respect. He was kept in a guest house. He was later transported in a helicopter.
4. The Angry Lalu
Lalu’s most recent target was his friend-turned-foe-turned-friend-turned-foe Nitish Kumar. After Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) parted ways from Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar, Lalu Yadav launched a stinging attack on Nitish and called him ‘palturam’ (someone who isn’t true to his words).
Don’t know how many times he (Nitish Kumar) has backtracked. Just call him ‘palturam’. He is ‘palturam’ of politics.