Amidst the verbal duels parliament witnessed on December 22 when the Lokpal Bill was tabled for discussion, the lone parliamentarian who stood out for his theatrics was Lalu Prasad, that irrepressible king of buffoonery.
Lalu was busy stirring what he believes is 'rustic charm' and 'earthen wit' into the debate, launching a vitriolic broadside at social activist and Jan Lokpal crusader Anna Hazare. That the old magic failed to work is evident from from the fact that most MPs sat stone-faced even as a few smiled and some thumped their desk. This is the same crowd that used to be in splits every time Lalu spoke only a few years ago. It seems there are only a few buyers of a clown-act in parliament.
The funnyman has slid in favour of the people and their representatives. His audience is thinning fast. One only has to look at how Bihar has outgrown Lalu and his antics to know this to be true.
Bihar, under the present government, is climbing the ladder of social success. The state has shed its uncouth and uncivilised image, while Lalu has steadfastly held on to the tags.
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Granted, the Yadav chieftain rose from the great bowels of socialist movement that raged across the country in the late seventies and became the chief minister of a state that till then had been largely dominated by the upper caste. Accepted, that Lalu also changed the social landscape of Bihar giving the deprived and despised populace a voice.
But then Lalu, in his three consecutive terms at the helm, never took himself seriously as a chief minister and his duty to the state and its people. Assured of his formidable Muslim-Yadav electoral combine, he gave free reins to lumpen elements who unleashed a reign of terror in the state. He, meanwhile, regaled himself and others with his ‘jab tak rahega samose mein aloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu’ brand of rhetoric.
However, his day of reckoning came in 2005 when he lost to his comrade-turned-rival Nitish Kumar, who triumphed on the promise of development. The new chief minister spoke a language of development, of progress, of law and order, so alien to Lalu. He, inadvertently showed him the path forward, the path that began with serious deliberations over his past and an concerted attempt to take corrective action.
But six years down the line, Lalu has not changed. He continues to remain the prisoner of a contrived image of (his own making) buffoonery and tasteless antics.
It is an affront to the people of Bihar to be represented by someone of Lalu’s persona that is so antithetical to what state represents today. The state today is teeming with possibilities and it has no place for a person like Lalu Prasad. It's time he grew up.