It was during Lalu Prasad Yadav’s heyday as Chief Minister of Bihar, that a colleague in Patna told us these stories, the first as one of those Lalu jokes and the second as a real life incident:
“A famous surgeon in Patna was kidnapped. His kidnappers demanded a ransom of two lakh rupees for his release. He informed his kidnappers that they had better release him as he was one of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s personal physicians. The kidnappers laughed and told him that if he was so confident that Lalu would come to his rescue he could call him. The surgeon called Lalu and requested him to get him released. Lalu simply asked him to tell him how much they were asking to release him. When the surgeon told him the figure Lalu reportedly advised him he had better pay up and get his release. The surgeon was nonplussed and wanted to know why as Chief Minister he could not obtain release of his own personal physician. Lalu replied that if he intervened the ransom would only be hiked. So it was best the surgeon arranged for the money and obtain his release.”
“A big burly ‘dada’ stopped what is generally known as a ‘shared auto-rickshaw’. He found a thin man sitting in the back and ordered him to move into the front seat alongside the driver as he a ‘dada’ would like to ride alone in the back. The ‘thin’ man protested saying as he had boarded the auto in an earlier stop he found no reason to vacate the seat and move forward. The ‘dada’ picked him up by the scruff of his neck and bodily pushed him into the front seat. The ‘thin’ man silently moved forward but did not alight in his intended stop. He rode on till the ‘dada’ alighted at his stop and followed him on foot till they reached a secluded spot. He took out a pistol from his pocket, shot him through the back and walked away.”
These stories did not seem apocryphal in view of what some of our colleagues experienced. And they were all real life incidents:
“We were staying in Hotel Maurya located on Patna’s main road that runs parallel to the railway station and on which major political parties have their offices. At about 10 P.M. a colleague wanted to go to the STD booth across the road to call home. (The boss wouldn’t approve long distance calls from hotels as they were loaded with exorbitant service charges.) The hotel security staff warned him against crossing the road as it was not safe to do so at night.”
“After a sales conference a colleague returned to Patna one summer morning when dawn was breaking. As his residence was only a short distance he thought he would take a walk in the pre-dawn coolness. Suddenly a guy emerged from one of the by-lanes and relieved him of his briefcase, purse and hand-phone at gun point.”
“In another replica of the same incident a couple of our colleagues were relieved of their personal belongings as they were retuning from a meeting in the sales office. Only it was dusk that time on another day.”
“A colleague boarded a AC II Tier compartment of the Patna – Hyderabad Express which left Patna at about 8 P. M. The conductor promptly locked all doors as soon as it left the station. When it stopped at the next station forty-five minutes later a passenger on the platform banged on the door shouting for it to be opened. While no one showed any inclination to open it our colleague went to the door seeking to open it. Another passenger rushed after him shrieking not to open it. When our colleague wanted to know why, the other passenger simply asked him whether he was from South India. Informed that he was the other passenger advised him never to open doors in a train at night.”
All these incidents occurred around the turn of the century and not in any rural outback of backward Bihar but in the state capital. No wonder the central government’s national highways projects ran aground in Bihar. It may be difficult to believe this but it was said that Universities in Bihar declared examination results at least two years after they were held.
This was what fifteen years of rampant misrule characterized by nepotism and criminalization did to a state that had a hoary past – a state that could boast of the Guptas and the Mauryas, Gaya and Nalanda, Rajendra Prasad and Jaya Prkash Narayan. Lalu found the psephological formula for success in his Muslim Yadav (MY) combination and it would work (endlessly, he hoped) if only the denizens of the state were kept in darkness. Education and development would be a nuisance. While he basked amidst his buffalos and dung televised by helpful television channels for all the world to see, it was rumoured that he educated his children in an exclusive school in far away Mount Abu. Such expensive education – denied to ordinary mortals of the state – cost a whopping `1 lakh per child per month and probably charged to fodder.
When in 1997 he had to step down as Chief Minister after the fodder scam broke, Lalu chose his barely literate wife as his successor although his party had a two thirds majority in the Assembly. This champion of social justice did not find any other MLA suitable to lead the state. Strange things came to light in the investigation of the `950-crore fodder scam. When the registration numbers of some of the vehicles which transported the fodder were screened they turned out to be those of two-wheeled scooters and not six-wheeled trucks.
In spite of all this Lalu was feted by the media first as chief minister of India’s second largest state (in terms of population) and then as railway minister. His rustic humour was avidly lapped up. The media needed such secular champions of social justice to cock a snook at what it calls the Hindutwa forces. Media portrayal of his success as railway minister was another chimera – either born out of its fertile imagination or gullibility or the effectiveness of his PR. The business schools in India and abroad which feted him for his success as rail minister were either naïve or done in by some cynical but masterful PR wok.
The contrast between media’s darling Lalu and its bête noire Narendra Modi can not be starker. Our sanctimonious MSM may not be amused but Google returned 30,000 jokes including videos for Lalu plus of course 286,000 general results. On the other hand there were 4,860,000 results for Narendra Modi.
Ever since the party seconded him to lead Gujarat as Chief Minister, Narendra Modi set a brisk pace for development and only development. The bachelor CM who leads a Spartan life practically lives on the job. Goebbelsian media lying in its teeth or perjuring NGOs did not deter him. In every aspect of governance – agriculture, employment generation, educating the girl child, improving literacy / reversing school drop-out rates, prevention of female foeticide, inculcation of work culture, rural electrification or water harvesting – his state surged ahead leaving behind all others.
Copyright and Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this blog/article are the author's own and not of this website. The author is solely responsible for the contents of this blog/article. This website does not represent or endorse the accuracy, completeness or reliability of any opinion, statement, appeal, advice, quotes from other reference materials or any other information in the blog/article. The same disclaimer applies to all the comments on this blog/article. Our visitors are free to forward this page URL (web address) to others in emails or put the links on individual facebook, twitter webpages strictly for non-commercial use. But the entire article should not be published/republished on other sites without the prior permission from us.