As former Bihar chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, his wife Rabri Devi said the disqualification would not impact the party as it stood united.
The RJD leader and former chief minister also expressed interest in renewing the party's alliance with the Congress.
“The party and its supporters have come together after the RJD president’s detention. He may have been barred for 11 years and cannot stand for elections, but he will be around to actively campaign for the party,” said Devi.
Prasad was disqualified from the Lok Sabha following conviction in the 17-year-old fodder scam on October 3. He has been sentenced to five years of imprisonment.
“The only realisation, in retrospect is, that we should not have left the UPA coalition in 2009,” Devi said.
“We would be very interested in tying up with the Congress for 2014 polls, and even otherwise, would support it from outside.”
Senior RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav said Prasad's disqualification was a setback for the party, but that the party would remain strong.
“We are certain that the party is far from breaking. Instead, it will be strengthened, as supporters feel he has been famed by the Opposition,” he said.
“His absence could take the edge out of our campaign. But it is more likely that it would result in a wave of sympathy for us, which will help the party.”
However, both Yadav and party spokesperson Manoj Jha said the situation could be reversed significantly if the party chief’s appeal against the verdict was upheld in the high court or even if the verdict was shot down in the future.
“Prasad could contest elections again in the future. We are sure to get justice from the superior courts,” Jha said.
It’s not yet clear who would replace Prasad as the party’s nominee from the Chhapra parliamentary seat, where the RJD has held sway for decades.
Asked if Devi could the next candidate from Chhapra as supporters in Saran have been demanding, she said, “That decision will be taken later.”