RJD Chief Lalu Returns to Patna Amid Clamour for Caste Census, Fresh CBI Case

Ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad has returned to his home turf Bihar, amid escalating political temperatures over issues of caste census, the Rajya Sabha biennial polls and the CBI registering yet another corruption case against the septuagenarian. Prasad arrived in Patna along with eldest daughter Misa Bharti, at whose Delhi residence he had stayed since his release on bail granted last month by the Jharkhand High Court in fodder scam cases.

A huge throng of RJD supporters was present at the airport to welcome the otherwise flamboyant leader, who appeared morose, on a wheelchair with a mask on his face.

The former Bihar chief minister was taken straight to his car in which he was driven to the residence of his wife Rabri Devi, much to the disappointment of waiting journalists. Prasad’s arrival in Patna from Delhi on Wednesday coincided with that of RCP Singh, Union minister and senior leader of the JD(U) controlled by the former’s arch rival Nitish Kumar, the current chief minister.

Singh’s future as a Union minister appears to be hinging on his re-nomination by the JD(U), which hopes to bag one of the five Rajya Sabha seats. Singh is a blue eyed boy of Kumar, but is said to be not very popular with the rank and file of the JD(U), despite having held many key posts in the party, including that of the national president.

In the RJD camp, the Rajya Sabha ticket aspirants include Misa Bharti whose second consecutive term is to end shortly. She, however, declined to comment when asked about the issue by journalists, saying her father, the national president, will make announcements at an appropriate time.

The RJD, with its increased tally in the assembly, hopes to win two of the remaining seats. While Misa Bharti’s candidature is almost certain, many names have been doing the rounds for the second seat, the most prominent being Sharad Yadav, a former party chief who was disqualified as a Rajya Sabha member in 2017. Yadav’s breakaway group Loktantrik Janata Dal has since merged with the RJD.

The BJP, which is tipped to win the remaining two seats, is also yet to come out with names of its candidates. Filing of nominations for the Rajya Sabha polls began on Wednesday and comes to a close on May 31.

Prasad, who is seen as an OBC icon, is also expected to speak his mind on the thorny issue of caste census. After the Centre’s flat refusal to conduct a headcount of any social group other than SCs and STs, the Nitish Kumar government has agreed to get a survey done at its own expense.

An all-party meeting is scheduled on June 1 to decide the modalities. The RJD supremo, who is also known to be adept at making political capital out of his legal wrangles, would also be keenly followed for any take that he might have to offer on the CBI raids conducted at his Delhi and Patna residences last week in a land for jobs scam pertaining to his tenure as Railway minister, which came to an end in 2009.

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