For one who was vehemently dismissive of ritualistic practices when he first became Bihar’s chief minister in March 1990, Lalu Prasad has surely come a long way as his faith in tantric Pagla baba shows.
Buoyed after ‘relief’ from the Supreme Court last week in the 1990 fodder scam case, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief visited the ashram of Pagla baba, near Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, on Friday.
RJD sources here confirmed Prasad performed puja at the ashram for over two hours and even made the baba ‘bless’ his wife, former chief minister Rabri Devi, who was not accompanying him, using a mobile phone.
“He has left for Delhi,” a senior RJD leader said on Saturday. TV visuals from the trip showed Lalu acknowledging Pagla baba as his ‘guru’, who is ‘protecting’ him from his opponents.
“Baba knows of the attacks on me. He has assured me nothing untoward will happen to me,” a visibly relieved Prasad said after his ashram visit.
Pagla Baba aka Bibhuti Narayan, said Prasad was his follower for a long time. “He’s like a child I have taken under my shadow (for his protection),” he said.
The RJD chief had performed a tantric puja at Pagla baba’s ashram in October 2011, as well.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday indicated that it would pass an order transferring the fodder scam case against Prasad pending before a trial court in Ranchi to another judge. Prasad had alleged that the judge was biased against him as he was ‘closely related’ to Janata Dal (United) minister PK Shahi, a claim that the latter had denied.
The RJD chief had moved the Supreme Court after the Jharkhand high court had rejected his plea. Acknowledging this as a serious setback, he had advised his party colleagues to be “prepared for the worst”.
Prasad’s courting of all things divine began in 1996, when the Patna high court ordered a CBI inquiry into the fodder scam, in which crores were withdrawn for cattle fodder that was never supplied.
To begin with, Prasad had ordered a revamp of the highly-regarded Shitla Maa temple at Agamkuan in Patna City. Last year, he had performed an elaborate maharudrabhishek at the Baba Hariharnath temple in Vaishali (north Bihar), an ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It was reported at the time he had performed the puja to facilitate his early return to power. Prasad had called the shots in Bihar for almost 15 years till a government headed by his wife Rabri Devi lost office in 2004-05.
Again, last month, Prasad, was in Shirdi, Mahrashtra, to seek the blessings of Sai Baba. From there, he was off to Nashik, the seat of a 'jyotirling’ and then to the Shani temple at Shani Shingapur.