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Friday, December 23, 2011

Lalu Prasad Yadav amplifies Lokpal threat || Lalu Prasad Yadav hungama in Lok Sabha ||

NEW DELHI: Lalu Prasad is going through a lean political patch. He has lost two consecutive state elections and after a long time is without power either in Patna or Delhi. Losses to rivals in a series of by-elections show that a break in the dark clouds may not be imminent. 

Yet, the irrepressible politician from Bihar did not let his worries come in the way as he donned the role of "authorized spokesperson" of the political class and lit into the Lokpal bill and questionedAnna Hazare seeking to dictate terms toParliament on the anti-graft legislation. "Yeh aakhiri ghadi hai," he declared, tapping into the anxiety gnawing at the political class that the proposed Lokpal will cut into their turf and change the rules of the game, making them accountable. 

The apocalyptic warning that all will be lost if they did not mount a last-gasp defence found ready resonance not just among MPs of political parties who have not been enamoured of civil society activism but also of Congress, whose chief Sonia Gandhi had only on Wednesday vowed to get the legislation passed. 

Then came the defiant assertion, "we are the law making body", a riposte to Team Anna's insistence to equip the Lokpal with the powers of their choice. The former Bihar chief minister followed that with the declaration that laws were framed in Parliament not at street corners. 

Although he was entitled to just a few minutes because of the measly strength of four MPs he can boast of, he merrily went on to make a 20-minute spiel against Lokpal and Team Anna. No one protested, and the chair was indulgent. In fact, the thumping endorsements from treasury benches egged him on. 

The master communicator, who would once sway huge audiences with his earthy imageries, showed that he had not completely lost the faculty. He referred to widespread alleged corruption in implementation of MPLADS - a scheme under which MPs are allowed to spend Rs 5 crore per annum on schemes of their choice. "Everybody will end up in jail as the contractors when caught by Lokpal will accuse MPs of taking cuts," he said. Lalu amplified the warning by saying that even former MPs will not be spared, pointing to the provision in the bill to allow Lokpal to investigate cases of corruption up to seven years old. 

Parliament has never been short of members who revelled in mocking political vogues. Stalwarts like Chandrashekhar and George Fernandes relished pulling against middle class's interest in reforms or closeness to the US. But Lalu stands in a league of his own, flaunting his rusticity, mocking himself and directing his sub-altern putdowns at a whole range of enemies. 

Although he did not surpass his best in the same House, the performance stood out because of the indulgence he received for his anti-civil society barbs. But the clever politician that he is, the RJD boss not once acknowledged that he was opposed to Lokpal. "This is propaganda. Actually, I want a stronger Lokpal bill," Lalu said as he pressed for the present bill to be rolled back. The rhetorical sleight was reminiscent of Mark Antony's "But Brutus is an honourable man". 

Lalu, who had earlier protested against the removal of "minorities" from the list of categories who have been assured reservation in Lokpal, emphasized his role in the course correction by government.


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