“Khao kum, piyo kum. Anaaj bachao, chara bachao, desh bachao
(Eat less, drink less, save on food and fodder and save the country).”
This clear and straightforward solution to the impending food crisis came from none other than Lalu Prasad, fresh from his management experiments in the Indian Railways.
Prasad believes that only this will work. “At least, the hoarders will not be able to profit from the calamity if consumption is less,” he told HT while enjoying a frugal meal of sattu (roasted gram powder) and achar (pickle) at his residence here.
“We have a buffer stock for just 13 months. Only frugal living – even skipping one meal a day – can extend that buffer by months. I wonder what would happen if rain fails us again next year,” he said.
Last week, Prasad wondered aloud whether Nitish Kumar’s trip to Taregna, 35 km from Patna, and eating a biscuit during the solar eclipse on July 22 had not led to the drought.
Traditionally, Hindus believe that consuming food during eclipses brings bad luck.
The comment came in for all-round criticism, with Kumar calling him an unbalanced politician.
Kumar’s party colleague and Janata Dal (U) spokesman Shivanand even said, “Lalu, having lost his power, has now fallen back on superstition.”
This time, Prasad did not make the mistake. He said, “I feel it’s beyond the capability of any government to feed people if drought persists. Drought is not man-made. It is a natural calamity. I will do what I can.”
Asked whether he shared this view with chief minister Nitish Kumar with whom he travelled from Delhi to Patna on the same flight, Prasad wondered, “Would that make any difference?”