Weathered by old age and ill-health, RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav on Sunday returned to his home turf of Bihar from where imprisonment in fodder scam cases had kept him away for three years.
Prasad, who was released from jail a few months ago, arrived here accompanied by wife Rabri Devi and eldest daughter Misa Bharti, at whose Delhi residence he had been putting up for medical help he needs for the multiple ailments he suffers from.
Chants in praise of the “messiah of the poor” rent the air as the haggard-looking septuagenarian walked out of the airport, with a shuffling gait, tiredly waving at the huge boisterous crowd.
Prasad was last seen here in September 2018, after which he returned to Ranchi to serve his sentences upon expiry of the period of his bail, granted to attend elder son Tej Pratap’s wedding and extended a number of times to help him avail medical treatment.
At the airport, Tej Pratap and his younger brother Tejashwi appeared to have buried the hatchet while receiving their father, who wore a green cap and had a 'gamchha' (traditional towel) of the same colour wrapped around his neck.
The former Bihar Chief Minister drove straight to his wife’s residence, much to the disappointment of journalists looking forward to some juicy quotes, for which the flamboyant leader has been known.
A large number of supporters was also seen outside Rabri Devi’s 10, Circular Road bungalow, situated right across the Chief Minister’s residence, and police and security personnel had to sweat it out to keep their enthusiasm under check.
Minutes later, Tej Pratap was seen leaving the house furiously, complaining of “humiliation” at the hands of state RJD chief Jagadanand Singh and MLC Sunil Singh whom he accused of preventing him from spending some time with his father.
The mercurial elder son, who has lost the spotlight to younger sibling Tejashwi, had been fuming since morning when posters were put up at some places welcoming his father. Tej Pratap’s photo was conspicuous by its absence in the poster which featured Tejashwi, Rabri Devi and Misa, among others.
“I have nothing to do with the RJD henceforth. I am, though, a devoted son and will continue to dote on my father,” said the maverick MLA whose run-ins with functionaries of his party keep making headlines.
Hectic politicking is expected in the days to come, as Prasad’s return comes at a politically charged time. The former Union minister has made it clear that he intends to take part in the campaign for October 30 by-polls to Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan assembly seats.
He was asked by journalists, in Delhi earlier in the day, as to whether he would not be violating conditions laid down by the court while granting him bail on health reasons, if he campaigns.
“It is nonsense. Who said I have been granted bail on health reasons? I got entitled to bail because I have spent half of my sentence behind bars. Nothing can now prevent me from campaigning,” said Prasad.
By-elections to the two seats have been necessitated by deaths of the respective MLAs, both belonging to the JD(U) of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Prasad’s arch-rival. The RJD has the largest number of MLAs in the 243-strong assembly and it has been claiming that it will wrest the two seats from the ruling NDA and trigger a “khela” (upheaval) in the state’s politics. However, the party has got caught in a quagmire with its old ally, the Congress which accused the RJD of betraying the coalition “dharma” and fielded its own candidates for both seats. The Congress has also announced that it will go it alone in Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.