PATNA: Lalu Prasad is heeding the old proverb, ‘once bitten, twice shy’, to rebrand himself and ensure his two sons do not bear the cross of corruption that made his reign as Bihar CM synonymous with ‘Jungle Raj’.
In the newly formed government, Lalu has had a major say in the distribution of portfolios. Some key departments like road and building construction were given to his younger son and political heir Tejaswi Yadav, while elder son Tej Pratap was handed the crucial health department.
Knowing that his sons are greenhorns who need support to perform, the RJD chief has summoned two of his old trusted bureaucrats to assist them.
Sudhir Kumar, who was officer on special duty to Lalu when he was the railway minister in UPA-I, has been promoted to the rank of chief secretary and will work as principal secretary, road construction. Another IAS officer, RK Mahajan, who too has worked with Lalu at the Centre, will assist Tej Pratap as principal secretary, health.
Both officers were credited with helping Lalu effect a turnaround of Indian Railways. Clearly, Lalu wants to take no chances and groom his sons in a professional manner to handle the key government departments.
After becoming CM, Lalu faced the slur of mal-governance for more than a decade. Though Lalu, who is famous for his inimitable rustic appeal, is not part of the new government, he is firmly in the saddle as chief of the largest political party in the Assembly.
Recently, while addressing party leaders he severely reprimanded his own MLAs who installed their nameplates on government bungalows of their own choice before getting official allotments. He mentioned how he lived in peon quarters for four months after becoming CM in 1990. The message was clear: this Lalu is different from the blithe leader of yore and is in no mood to allow anybody to sully the image of his party or the government.
He also told party workers, “The world will be watching us. We have to understand the responsibility endowed on us by the great voters.” He warned his supporters the police would follow the rule of law and wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of caste. With most key portfolios like finance, road construction, etc., in its kitty, the RJD has emerged a key player in the coalition government. “We have a mature leadership in the Grand Alliance as you have seen during our campaign. Laluji had already announced that even in case the RJD gets more seats Nitish Kumar would be our chief ministerial candidate,” said senior RJD leader and national spokesperson Manoj Jha.