Lalu Yadav’s sentencing

The Ranchi Court has convicted Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam case and sentenced him to three and a half years in jail and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh. Lalu Prasad Yadav is a politician and will remain so even after his conviction and incarceration. From behind bars he will continue to control his party the RJD and influence the politics of the State and the country. As a convicted politician he will be disqualified from contesting elections and holding elective posts. That is nothing new to him because already he is ineligible to fight elections. What needs to be noted is the impact of his sentencing on Bihar politics. His son has already emerged as his political heir. He will now have the responsibility of holding the party together and lead it to the next State Assembly elections. Lalu’s conviction is not expected to rattle the rank and file of his party, who were more or less reconciled to the possibility of his imprisonment.
The next question is, how will the common people of Bihar react to his conviction and what the political fallout is likely to be. As things stand, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is unlikely to derive any greater mileage. His alliance with Lalu and the Congress in a mahagathbandhan to keep the BJP out of power in Bihar and his subsequent volte face snapping relations with Lalu and his party and bringing BJP back as a coalition partner has already done considerable harm to his political credibility.  Lalu’s imprisonment will not restore Nitish’s credibility.  Rather, the RJD may consolidate itself under his son’s leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal popularity and charisma still works but the BJP as a party is much less popular today than it was four years ago. As the Congress is weak in Bihar now, those disillusioned with the BJP are likely to gravitate to Lalu’s RJD rather than to Nitish’s JD(U).
Tejswai Yadav’s personal image as a clean politician may make him more acceptable to the people. How soon he becomes a leader in his own right and emerge from the shadows of his father needs to be watched. A crop of younger leaders is coming up in the States, like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Meghani and Alpesh Thakore in Maharashtra. If Tejaswi can work out his own personal equations with them, it will be easier for him to create a formidable force which can take on the BJP in Bihar. So, Lalu’s three and a half years behind bars may not harm his party and be a boon to Nitish and the BJP.

Friday, 12 January, 2018