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|October 7, 1999||
Samosas will never taste the same again
Samosas in Bihar will, wethinks, lose their charm henceforth.
For remember, it was the irrepressible Laloo Prasad Yadav who grandiloquently announced: Jab tak samosa mein aaloo rahega/Tab tak Bihar main Laloo rahega!
The second part of that algorithm just blew a fuse -- not only is the Bharatiya Janata Party sweeping Bihar against all expectations, but Laloo Yadav has lost to arch rival Sharad Yadav.
A Bihar polity without Laloo Yadav appears imminent. And if that little dictum holds, then samosa-makers need to find fresh fillings here on in.
Meanwhile, the situation is not without a certain piquancy. Sharad Yadav alleged large-scale rigging in Madhepura, went on a fast unto death -- which ended faster than you could say fast unto death -- and then went to the courts, dragging the judiciary into what is in fact an issue for the Election Commission to sort out.
Suddenly, Sharad Yadav finds himself in the strange position of leading in a constituency where he alleged large-scale manipulation.
Now the EC is waiting for Sharad Yadav to make up his mind what he wants to do with his petition.
Meanwhile 1, Anne Marg, official home of Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi is enveloped in gloom. Man of the manor Laloo Yadav is ensconced there, his wife Rabri and members of his extensive family standing around him, ready to lend moral support. Laloo spent last night dozing and waking up and dozing off again -- presumably, the very real spectre of large-scale desertion from the Rashtriya Janata Dal ranks prevented his sleep from being as deep and peaceful as it is known to be.
Ever since the first news trickled out, late last evening, that Sharad Yadav was leading in Madhepura, Laloo Yadav went behind the barricades. The man who, at the drop of a cue, loves to ham for the television cameras was suddenly "unavailable for comment" -- a telling sign in itself.
This reporter was woken up at 0515 this morning by a call from a senior RJD leader, wanting to know if I had any information from Madhepura. Having got the bad news, he asked for the number of another journalist, so that he could confirm the news. "I rang Lalooji's home, the phone attendant told me that Kahne mein achcha nahin lagta hai. Saab pichar rahen hain. Aap bhi aajaye. (The news is not good. Saheb is trailing. You too come)."
This reporter than rang up a prominent RJD couple, both of whom are close to Laloo Yadav. Only to be told that the couple were participating in the wake at their leader's home.
Party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed Khan is yet to pay his boss a visit. "Kuch samaj main nahin aata hai kaya hua. Thodi der bad baat karenge (I have no idea what has happened, let us talk later)."
The rival camp celebrated. Some offered up prayers. Others danced, and distributed sweets.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Sushil Kumar Modi gloats: "Laloo has lost in his own den of Yadavs and Muslims, despite large-scale rigging. If the election was fair, he would have lost by three lakh votes." Never mind that the BJP leader and Laloo were in the seventies and for much of the eighties great friends.
For Modi, any feelings of friendship for his one time comrade are now dead. "He is basically a chaotic person, an anarchist. He does not tolerate anyone," he says.
Laloo has one tiny silver lining in the cloud enveloping him. Another old pal turned fierce rival -- Nitish Kumar to give him a name -- is also heading for defeat.
Misfortune loves company they say. Yet, before the counting began, who would have thought Laloo Yadav and Nitish Kumar, once friends in politics, would finish up as companions in electoral misfortune?
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