When I set out to write the Farewell to Laloo, previously published on the Bihar Times site, I had apprehension. Could he pull off any way was in my subconscious? However, to make my view clearer, I assure the readers that I do not criticize Laloo out of despise. I hope that my views would meet with candid readers of the Bihar Times who would decide its credibility and probable effect.
As for Laloo, who does not know that there is only one Laloo, a man so popular yet so abhorred? Surprisingly, he has nothing to hide. His fame and fortune as well as his infamy and misfortune are all in the open. He was in jail as a civil right protestor and he has been in jail to pilfer from the people. He was known as the Messiah of the Poor and also known as the King of Jungle. He has friends who were criminals and he has friends who control the destiny of India. He is best known for the destruction of Bihar but he is also known for making the Indian Railway profitable and efficient. He is the hell of a man who was feared as well as respected.
May I say that, in the beginning, Laloo was really the man people admired and hinged their hopes on him? He promised to lead them to the Land that was Utopia; and they believed him. They were tired of the widespread chaos and corruption of the erstwhile administration and they needed a new leader. It just so happens that the man we call Laloo presented himself as the dynamic and progressive leader. The desperate people do desperate things. They accepted Laloo as their vanguard and expected him to uplift them from the graveyard of poverty. There was one caveat; the People did not know that it was the pretense for self-aggrandizement.
It has been over 25 years since Laloo made his splash on the political horizon but I will never forget the day my father, a sincere Congress Party worker, called to tell me that Laloo had become the Chief Minister. His voice was distinctively somber but optimistic. In spite of the defeat of his party in the hands of a neophyte politician, he was so hopeful that he went beyond the party line to announce that Laloo would be a better leader than his good friend, Jagannath Mishra, was. You see, my father was more than a politician. He was a social worker and a mass leader. When he spoke about Laloo, he spoke for the masses because Laloo was the darling of the masses at the time.
There may be some confusion among my critics because of my surname. They might think that since I am a Brahmin, I have grudge against Laloo for what he did to upper caste people. Nothing is farther from the truth. I was not personally affected by any of his biased strictures if there was any and I did not care if he really was prejudiced against the Upper Caste people. In my opinion if he sidelined the people of the Upper castes, he dug his own grave. Conversely, he did a favor to them in disguise. Many of them went out of the State and out of the country and brought name and fortune to Bihar. Of course, I am Brahmin by birth but being Brahmin is a cultural occurrence for me. It has no other significance in my life. I speak as the Citizen of Bihar without having any caste connotation or without any implication of prejudice. I want Bihar to prosper and I want Bihar to be a peaceful place to live and to do business. I want our roads to be passable, our schools to be educable and our system of government so good that there is no corruption and no exploitation. Laloo could have done all that but he did not only disappoint my father, he disappointed the people of Bihar.
Laloo ruled Bihar for fifteen years but I am sorry to say that those years were the darkest years in the history of Bihar. Instead of serving the masses that respected him and gave him the pedestal, he chose to succumb to the devils of destruction. He betrayed his people, squandered the opportunity and left the legacy of a corrupt politician. Now the people of Bihar have spoken and the result is devastating to the man who was once the King of Politics.
However, it would be premature to exaggerate his demise and write his political obituary. He is still the same Laloo, a man with bucolic charisma and inventive mind. He knows that he has been awakened rudely and he faces many challenges ahead. Though he has limited options, his best bet would be to take the sabbatical before embarking to regain his political power.
I would say it is a false assumption that the reason for his defeat was his break up with the Congress or too much dependence on Ram Vilas to attract EBC votes. The Election of 2009 was the test of the maturity of the electorate of Bihar and they have shown that they can exercise their franchise to root out corruption as effectively as other could. Is not what has happened to Laloo Prasad Yadaw?
In nutshell, Laloo was the man, admired for his natural abilities but why a man with so much potential would wreck his chances of greatness is mind-boggling. I have repeatedly expressed my own views that he lacked experience, he had the company of undesirable people and he was more motivated by grandiose than by public service. As soon as he became the Chief Minister, the power intoxicated him and he forgot his mission. He mismanaged the affairs of the State and misused the privileges accorded to him. He allowed criminal enterprise to prevail and engaged in practices unbecoming of the head of the government. Perhaps, having had the luck to stay in power for so long, he mistook his victories of early years as if he had the mandate forever.
You see, Twenty years ago, Bihar was suffering from the same syndrome that the people of pastoral age suffered. In pastoral age, to become the head, one had to have the backing of his clan. Likewise, Laloo depended more on a particular section of people to stay in power than he depended on all sections of the society. He stayed in power by polarizing the masses and polarization was the biggest reason of his success.
Now the configuration of the masses has changed. Even the people of his own caste have become aware of their pious obligations. They are as informed of the importance of voting for the right causes as others are and they have voted unlike their ancestors did under the compulsion of caste or sect. It is a new beginning for Bihar and Bihar will grow because of that. Thanks to the voters of Patliputra in particular and Bihar in general.
My criticism of Laloo has no bearing on my lack of respect for him. On the contrary, I believe that he is an immensely intelligent person despite his shortcomings. I only wish he were a thoughtful political leader.
Therefore, let us pause for a moment and give credit to the man for his long career in politics. At the same time, we must tell him that should he decide to get back in politics, he will have to forfeit his arrogance and give up his political chicanery. I am sure he realizes by now that no body is invincible in democracy and no one is so powerful as to stay in power permanently. If you betray the people in democracy, people will shun you, eventually.
Laloo Jee! You may be offered a consolation prize by the UPA for being a good solder but you will have to play second fiddle. On the Contrary, you may go to the masses to confess your inadequacies and ask for forgiveness. Remember Ratnakar, the great brigand turned Valmiki. His contrition before Narad elevated him to the position of a great Saint and a Poet. You can do it too.