The bonding between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and yoga guru Ramdev has raised eyebrows with many speculating both the figures’ political and economic interests to be the driving force behind their bonhomie.
While both Lalu and Ramdev had traded insults in the past, on Wednesday they could be seen singing praises for each other. “Ramdev has done the country proud. His products are very good,” Lalu said on Wednesday.
Observers feel the bond between the two has much to do with the RJD chief’s new found stature within Bihar’s political and social set up. It is speculated that the yoga guru wants to mend fences with Lalu so as to be able to expand Patanjali’s consumer base in Bihar.
“Bihar is a big market where Patanjali products are slowly catching up. So, it is a prudent business move to have a good relationship with the government,” said a former Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) MLA on the condition of anonymity.
There is also a political hue to the Lalu-Ramdev ‘friendship’. RJD insiders feel that Lalu has decided to improve relations with Ramdev, who is known to be close to the saffron regime, with an aim of projecting himself as a national leader whose links cut across party lines.
There is also talk that Ramdev - a Yadav by caste - could serve as a catalyst in enhancing the RJD chief’s political clout among the Yadav community of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
“The competitiveness among the Grand Alliance allies ensures that there is always room for political realignments. So, one cannot discount the political symbolism behind Lalu’s bid to meet Ramdev. It would be interesting to see whether Lalu attends Ramdev’s international yoga meet, for which he has already received an invitation,” said a senior Grand Alliance leader.
RJD’s state spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwary, however, said that much should not be read into the meeting between the two maverick personalities. “What is wrong if Laluji endorses Ramdev’s products? The RJD chief has always been an advocate of desi products,” he said.
Tiwary also dismissed the claim that Lalu was forging a bond with Ramdev with the intention of inching closer to the BJP brass.