Party, people stood by us, had faith in court: Rabri Devi
The bail granted to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad by the apex court came as a shot in the arm for the party’s morale. Amid cheer and celebration by supporters, former chief minister and his wife Rabri Devi welcomed the court’s decision and affirmed her party’s unity.
“The party did not weaken. The people of Bihar stood by us. We will fight the Lok Sabha polls with increased confidence. We were sad earlier that while others were given bail, his plea was rejected, but we had full faith in the court,” Rabri Devi, who held the party’s reigns since Mr. Prasad’s conviction, told reporters at her residence.
Pointed out that Mr. Prasad’s conviction still remained, she said, “That [setting aside of conviction] will also happen. We have faith on the judiciary.”
Hitting out at political rivals, Rabri Devi said they were spreading several misconceptions about defections. “Our MLAs are together. We had a meeting yesterday and everyone was present. There is no rift in the party.”
She dismissed Janata Dal (United) saying the RJD’s main contender was the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Although Mr. Prasad won’t be able to contest in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, his active leadership would now benefit the party that aims to strengthen itself.
“The party rank and file is definitely happy with the court’s decision. Mr. Prasad was a victim of political conspiracy. Mr. Prasad will campaign all over the country,” senior RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav said.
"Everyone was thinking the party would fall apart, but not a single person left,” RJD MP Jagdanand Singh said.
Mr. Prasad’s sons Tej Pratap and Tejaswi said they would go to Ranchi to receive their father when he is released from prison.
“It’s the poor who have got bail today. Those who thought our party will fragment, their dreams have been shattered. We got full support of party workers. Now we would be able to move ahead with increased speed,” Tejaswi told The Hindu.
The RJD and its Bihar ally Lok Janshakti Party have expressed their wish to ally with the Congress time and again.
Asked if the party would still prefer an alliance with the Congress in light of the results of the recent State polls, Rabri Devi said, “Our stand has always been the same. We want all parties with a secular and social justice outlook to come on a common platform.” She did not think a tie-up with the national party after its poor show in the five Assemblies would harm the RJD’s prospects.
As for the anti-Congress mandate, she said the results were in the backdrop of price rise and poverty. In response to a question, she said an alliance with the Congress in light of their poor show will not harm the RJD.
Meanwhile, the Congress has showed no sings of warning up to the overtures. “Mr. Prasad’s bail is a judicial process and we have faith in the judiciary. We cannot rule out his political stature in Bihar and we recognise it, but we have not taken any decision on alliance. As State party president I would like to contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats,” Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary told The Hindu.
LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan said that the RJD-LJP vote was always intact. He would be meeting with Mr. Prasad after his release to discuss further political moves.
The Janata Dal (United) said that Mr. Prasad’s release on bail will not have any significant impact on the JD (U)’s prospects.
“We have broadened our vote base. The State government has done a lot of work for minority and backward class welfare. The RJD has been functioning the same way even when Mr. Prasad was in jail. So there will be no material impact,” Bihar JD (U) president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu.
In the event of a likely RJD-Congress alliance, the RJD will have to share the failures of the Congress. “The Congress today has come to symbolise bad governance with all the corruption cases. The RJD will have to share that too,” Mr. Singh said.