His long sleeved kurtas and Sadhana style haircut sold his rustic politics as did his famous one-liners.
But, Lalu Prasad, president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, ‘succeeded as much due to his able “counsellors and conscience keepers” and managed to remain afloat for 15 long years till the fodder scam struck.
Those who have watched the 68 year old’s roller coaster ride, say the rise of Prasad could be attributed to some of his trusted party leaders, including his student day friends, who stood by him and bailed him out of adversities.
Many of them parted ways, leading to his political loneliness and his reactionary falling back on his own family. And when late Speaker Radhanandan Jha died, something died in the Lalu household too. That was 2005. The political eclipse followed soon after.
Former minister Shivanand Tiwari, who was once Prasad’s closest aide, feels “Prasad being a selfmade politician, has always been arrogant and seldom believes in taking advice. But, yes, he had some good friends who did a lot for him, without whom today, he is at sea.”
The tale of Prasad’s one time “man Friday’, former MP Ranjan Yadav is no different.
Old timers recall, how it was Ranjan, among other few close aides, who had backed Prasad’s idea to anoint his wife as chief minister on July 25, 1997, within days of his arrest in the infamous fodder scam case.
‘’It was Ranjan Yadav, who enjoyed the biggest trust among all and within the small inner circle. Prasad was quite confident of his political advice and had faith in Ranjan’s abilities to play the role of a back room trouble shooter. He consulted him, always,” said a former minister in the RJD government.
Of course, a few have been true loyalists, weathering every storm to be at Prasad’s side like former MP Jagdanand Singh, who is still the RJD strategist.
It was, however, former Congressman and assembly speaker, Radhanandan Jha, who was considered bothPrasad’s governance mentor and soul mate in many ways. It was the late Jha, who advised him on matters of policy and political tieups with Congress and Left parties. ‘Radha Babu’ as all recall, was an astute politician, policy maker, and an expert at legislative business. With his death, an RJD pillar collapsed.
Incidentally, critics of the RJD chief say, it was the wily politician’s arrogant ways and love for sycophancy, which proved to be his Achilles heel. Prasad picked political nonentities, much in Raja durbar style, only to drop them like hot potatoes, in the heyday of his power around 1995. His house, remained besieged throughout by many hangerson given to self proclaimed loyalty and were richly rewarded.
One of them was Anwar Ahmed, who was good at serving delectable kebabs. That skill earned him a seat as MLC.
In the last few years, Bhola Yadav, a lawyer by profession from Banka has climbed to the position of Prasad’s soulmate- his most trusted lieutenant. No coincidence againfor he too was rewarded l with an MLC seat last year.
Another old loyalist of Prasad, Rajneeti Prasad, who rendered legal help was sent to the Rajya Sabha at a time, when he himself least expected it.
“For any politician of Prasad’s stature, it was easy to reward anybody. But the RJD chief has been choosy in giving rewards to hismost loyal aides, at times picking the wrong ones and stoking dissension within,” said, a senior party leader.
He pointed to the ejection of Ram Kripal Yadav, his staunchest supporter in 2014.Even Prasad’s own brothersin-law, Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav who were parallel ‘power centres’ in RJD government have slammed their ‘jija’ over his company of sycophants, even as trusted aides like Jagdanand, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Illiyas Hussain, Prabhunath and the rest, manage at the peripheries.