Out of jail Lalu holds first 'virtual' interaction with party workers

    Patna, May 9 (PTI) Rashtriya Janata Dal founding
president Lalu Prasad, who is out on bail after spending more
than three years behind bars, on Sunday held a much-awaited
"virtual interaction" with workers of his party back home in
    Prasad, who recently walked out of a jail in Ranchi
after the Jharkhand High Court granted him bails in all the
fodder scam cases wherein he has been awarded punishments,
spoke from New Delhi.
    The septuagenarian, who suffers from multiple ailments
including diabetes, cardiac and renal problems, has been
convalescing at his residence in the national capital upon
    His younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, who
is at their Delhi home to look after the ailing father, also
spoke on the occasion. Yadav, who delivered the introductory
speech, said that his father was "unwell, his oxygen levels
hovering around 85, a reason why Lalu ji will not speak much".
    It was not clear whether Prasad's oxygen levels were
down because of some other problem or he had been infected by
    Nonetheless, a wave of dejection swept over the party
rank and file who were eagerly looking forward to hearing from
their leader, famous for his flamboyant wisecracks and earthy
sense of humour.
    Prasad told the listeners party MLAs and those who
had contested the assembly elections on RJD tickets but lost
to rise to the occasion when the pandemic "has reached our
farthest villages".
    The listeners, who had been instructed to attend the
"virtual interaction" from their respective constituencies via
video conferencing, were asked to set up "RJD COVID care
centres" in their areas of influence.
    They were also urged to "expose and thwart" any
instances of black marketing of oxygen cylinders and other
important medicines, and help needy patients with food and
other logistics like ambulances.
    Prasad's maverick elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, who
dotes on his father but has been overshadowed by his suave and
shrewd younger sibling, also spoke on the occasion.
    He proposed that in all the 243 assembly segments of
the state, the party should run "Lalu Rasoi" (Lalu community
kitchens) where food would be prepared and distributed free of
    The proposal, predictably met with applause, though it
was not yet clear whether it was going to lead to fruition.
    Prasad, who was the chief minister of undivided Bihar
for seven straight years, first got convicted in a fodder scam
case in 2013, which led to his disqualification from
contesting elections.
    He was, however, soon out on jail and took part in the
2014 Lok Sabha polls in which his party came out with an
unimpressive performance in the face of the "Modi wave".
    A year later, though, he emerged as the star
attraction in the assembly polls which his party fought in
alliance with arch rival and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's
    Though out of race himself, Prasad ensured through his
electrifying campaign a spectacular comeback for the RJD that
had been drubbed by the NDA in the 2010 assembly polls, and
both his sons made successful debuts, with Tejashwi becoming
the deputy CM and Tej Pratap getting a cabinet berth.
    Although out of power now, the RJD once again emerged
as the single largest party in the assembly elections held
last year, which also saw the 32-year-old Tejashwi steering
the party to an impressive performance despite the absence of
his charismatic father. PTI NAC

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)