Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has again proved himself a politician with a difference. He has come out in support of an already-married Patna professor whose romance with a young student prompted Patna University to suspend him.
Questioning the decision of the university to suspend Professor Matuk Nath Chaudhary over his love affair, the former Bihar chief minister described it as wrong.
Speaking in favour of the 54-year-old professor, Lalu Prasad said: "Love is the essence of god and it helps us understand each other. It is a bond that unites all."
"Love is not a crime, and the professor did not commit a crime by falling in love with a girl half his age," the minister said on Sunday at Hajipur near Patna where he had gone to attend an official function.
Chaudhary, a professor of Hindi in BN College who has a grown up son, was suspended last Saturday. Earlier, the university had issued a show cause notice to him to explain the events that led to scenes "defaming" the university's name.
The minister downplayed the controversy over the professor's love for a 22-year-old student, Julie Kumari, saying: "Many people do such things, it is not unusual."
Lalu Prasad even had a suggestion to resolve the issue. Both women - the wife Abha Thakur, and the lover Julie - "should be allowed to live together in love".
A day after his suspension, Choudhary had said that he would approach the court as he had "hardly violated" anything.
Choudhary was arrested earlier this month with his girlfriend, who is a student from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), after his wife filed a police complaint alleging that the professor would lure young students by promising them higher marks. Choudhary's face was blackened by some angry people, including relatives. The professor and the woman were released on bail later.
However, students of the college gave the couple a warm welcome when they arrived there last week and garlanded him. Abha Thakur is likely to move the Bihar State Women's Commission over the issue.
None of Bihar's politicians has made any statement on the controversy so far. Now, Lalu Prasad's open championing of the professor and his love interest is sure to make him a hero of more such love birds in the making.