The Trouble with Laloo


It looks like no political party has won a majority in Bihar and President’s rule might be declared. Bihar has the reputation of being one of the most backward states. Of course the green fields of Punjab wouldn’t be so green and the factories of India wouldn’t chug along without all the labor and raw materials that come from the state. So it pretty much suits everyone that it is underdeveloped. In the middle of all this is the impossible figure of Laloo Prasad Yadav. Here is a little bio:

Born in 1948, Yadav was elected to the sixth Lok Sabha at the early age of 29 years in 1977. In 1989, he became the leader of the opposition after being in the Bihar Legislative Assembly for two terms before becoming Chief Minister of Bihar in 1990, a post he held till 1997, when he was forced to resign on widespread corruption charges. Handing over the reins of the state to his wife, he served prison sentences before being re-elected to the 12th Lok Sabha for a third term.

He has a degree in law and his interests vary from reading revolutionary books to writing articles on politics and debating. But his real passion seems to be surviving in politics, a skill he has mastered like few others. Critics point to the worsening socio-political scenario of Bihar while he and his wife have governed the state, but he has his legions of admirers, who are ready to die for him.Laloo Prasad has managed to survive without completely aligning himself to the Congress (which has generally been the junior partner to his RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) party) nor the BJP. He seems to be a populist whose corrupt practices have not harmed his political fortunes, except this time round. Despite his bad record on development, he has a very good record on communal politics and violence in Bihar, as this article from Indian Express (archived on Communalism Watch) points out:

Although the Sangh parivar never got to rule Bihar, it had attained more power on the streets of the state than in the Patna assembly. Riots would rage for a month and administrators would not know how to control them. In 1990, when Laloo Prasad Yadav came to power, the Ayodhya movement was at its peak. Muslims in the state were living under a pall of fear. Certainly, riots broke out even under Laloo’s guard but he knew how to control them. When violence erupted in Sitamarhi, for instance, the man who for many was only a joker’ camped in the city, holding a torch in one hand and a danda in other. When a riot broke out in Nawada, Laloo was in Delhi on an official assignment. When news of the riots came in, he dropped everything and rushed to the trouble spot. The riots were controlled in a jiffy.

Among other things Laloo Prasad did a guest appearance in a Bollywood film, Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav,” which seems to have done very badly. It would probably have been a better idea to do the film on him or at least a musical!