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Updated: October 1, 2013 10:20 IST

Will Rabri take centre stage again?

Rahi Gaikwad
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Rabri Devi
The Hindu
Rabri Devi

In 1997, when Lalu Prasad was arrested in the fodder scam case, he had to resign as Chief Minister. He made his wife Rabri Devi Chief Minister, effectively controlling the reins of power in Bihar.

The RJD is now in a similar situation after he has been convicted of corruption in the fodder scam, but the party is no longer in power for Mr. Prasad to make his political moves. All eyes are on Ms. Rabri Devi, the three-time former Chief Minister, who has again been thrust into the political arena by circumstances. However, she is cautious.

Asked whether she would take on the mantle of leadership, Ms. Rabri Devi told The Hindu: “Forget about it. That is something that will be decided later.”

However, with the RJD supremo back in jail, the party is staring at a leadership crisis, made more acute in light of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A decision on future leadership is the most pressing matter before the 16-year-old party.

“The RJD will face a great leadership crisis. I am apprehensive that the party will disintegrate,” Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, a Patna University professor and political commentator, told The Hindu.

While senior RJD leaders unanimously backed Bihar’s first woman Chief Minister as their natural leader, their emphasis on a “collective leadership” points to lack of consensus among them. “We have a collective leadership. There is no need for a single individual to be a leader. Our leader is Laluji, whether in jail or outside,” RJD MLA Ram Laxman Ram Raman told The Hindu.

Playing down the scare, member of Parliament Jagdanand Singh told The Hindu: “Our leader has gone to jail, not our leadership. Our leadership is intact. So is our party. Ours is not a young party. What happened in 2000 will happen again.” In the February 2000 Assembly elections, the RJD emerged as the single largest party and Ms. Rabri came back to power for the third time.

As party chief and charismatic leader, Mr. Prasad is the face of the RJD. Bereft of it, the party may have to field Ms. Rabri Devi to avoid a bitter power struggle, which it can’t afford with the general election being so close, say observers.

“We need an undisputed leader. Rabri Devi is our leader. If she is willing to accept the responsibility, we will welcome her leadership. Somebody has to pick up the mantle. I have been talking to the junior leadership and the sentiment among it is in her favour,” MLA Chandrashekhar said. Senior leaders Ram Kripal Yadav, Samrat Choudhary and Gulam Ghaus also hold similar views.

“There is no doubt that Rabri Devi is our leader. She has faced an adverse situation and managed party affairs when Mr. Prasad was in jail. The RJD went through rocky times even when it was in power. Nothing has been decided yet. We have to sit and discuss,” Mr. Ghaus said.

Mr. Prasad launched his sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap at his parivartan rally in Patna this May. They have taken up the mantle of youth leadership, but party leaders say they are less likely to be projected as the face of the RJD, given their inexperience. “Tejaswi is very young. Plus, he is unwilling to take up the party reins at the moment,” Mr. Chandrashekhar points out.

However, Prof. Chaudhary has dismissed the backing for Ms. Rabri Devi as a facade. “In private talks, RJD leaders have themselves said it is time for Mr. Lalu and Ms. Rabri Devi to go. They are not going to accept Ms. Rabri Devi or anyone from the family as a leader. Furthermore, the people will not accept her. Bihar has moved on. If the RJD put up Mr. Prasad’s family member there will be a rebellion in the party.”

This possibility cannot be ruled out as Mr. Prasad’s projection of his sons did not go down well with a section of leaders.

As of now, the party’s fate and that of its chief are hanging in the balance.

The whole family should be barred from holding any post ,they are the beneficiary of the money.

from:  prasad
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 07:05 IST

Good riddance.....this man and his party, a party of uneducated boors and criminals, sucked bihar dry, not just financially also in terms of spirit and ethos. i hear he asked the judge to show some leniency because he was rail minister and 2 1 time cm of bihar. i think on those very grounds he should be handed out maximum punishment. And curiously enough, this means he has accepted the verdict and hence his involvement in the scam. what about this drama of innocence and framing that he was putting up all these years.

from:  Abhienav Mishra
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 06:39 IST

Ridiculous.. in any other occupation being sentenced to jail for corruption means losing your job. What does one have to do to keep these goondas from managing the people and country forever.

from:  Sri
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 05:27 IST

Backseat driving is dangerous especially when the leader is not educated. It is not at all good for a State which has to develop a lot more. The State has contributed ever shining national leaders like, Rajendraprasad and Jayaprakash Narayan should look for such sincere people with integrity. The party should attract good leaders if not already available and give the reins to one of them. If RJD elects Rabri Devi as its new chief it is a misfortune to the people of the State.

from:  Dr. C. K. George
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 04:23 IST

SC should also bring the verdict that none from the families convicted politicians should be eligible to take part in politics .

from:  dhanunjayareddy vennapusa
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 18:31 IST
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