It was with a heavy heart that I read about the defeat of Laloo in the Bihar elections. I feared that now that Laloo has left, samosas would become bereft of potatoes and bears would vanish from the jungles.
But they havent.
Could it be because the:
“Jab tak rahega samosein main aloo,
Jab tak rahega jangal main bhaloo,
Tab tak rahengein Bihar main Laloo”
was nothing but badly rhymed political hyperbole?
Of course not. The reason why samosas and bears remain unmolested is because Laloo has never left Bihar. He cannot. Because he IS Bihar.
Nitish Kumar is nothing but a pretender—a Laloo loyalist who turned against the great man. Just like Ravana was also actually a disciple of Rama. Nitesh’s sojourn on the throne is only a temporary aberration—a minor perturbation in cosmic tranquility. Laloo and Rabri—-the Ram Sita of this generation will be back if not for anything else but for the continued perpetuation of samosas and bears. And also for some fodder.
I am sometimes amazed to see the amount of hatred the “bhodrolok” (gentry) have for Bihar’s first couple. Laloo and Rabri are projected as uneducated village bumpkins who orient the newspaper based on the pictures, are corrupt to the core, indulge in blatant nepotism, endorse sycophancy and a whole lot of assorted bad things.
The reason for the hatred is because the gentry feel threatened by Laloo. Because Laloo embodies their greatest fear—that the unwashed, hair-sticking-out-of-the-nose, rustic sons of the soil will rule the country. The so-called classy junta rely too heavily on their assumptions of the world—that education is necessary for success, honesty is the best policy and the good guy wins at the end. Laloo shows the middle finger to these utopian, boy’s scout values and that is precisely what makes so many people intensely uncomfortable.
Its fine as long as its the Oxford educated crowd are indulging in corruption—-merely perks of the job. But get caught stealing cattle food and then it’s all “shame shame”. If it’s the upper crust, we call it the “old boy’s network”, if it is Laloo then it is nepotism. Making money on defense deals and contracts —“kickbacks” and “commissions”. Making money of cow fodder—oh so plebian. The nation’s leading singer singing your poems and releasing an album just because you are the prime minister— a tribute. Laloo Chalisa—a shameless attempt to kiss ass.
Hypocrisy? You bet.
Laloo never sold out his roots. Even at the top, he remained essentially a cowherd whose hands were more comfortable holding a bovine udder than the pen of policy. A story told by Laloo many years ago was that when he went to the Far East to attract investments for his state he wore a suit to make the corporates feel comfortable but in deference to his roots, declined to don underwear.
Laloo has done more to expose the workings of government than any other. His Holi meetings with the ministers of his cabinet were rambunctious, from-the-heart affairs where he delighted in pulling down the pajamas of his ministers—-if that is not transparent governance then tell me what is?
Laloo speaks the language of the “pipul”—-his cheeks of Hema Malini line perhaps symbolizes how clued in he is to the language of the streets. No high faluting “yeh banana hain woh banana hain” but a plain and simple criterion of success ! It very well may be that the roads of Patna resemble Om Puri’s cheeks more than Hema’s but that is solely because of the neglect of the center.
Harvard has studied him, Mahesh Manjrekar has named a movie after him. Mamata Kulkarni has danced for him. Pooja Bhatt has eulogized him. He has an university named after him—-Jadavpur. And what’s remarkable is that this university was named in his honor even before he was born.
In that respect, he is not just a living legend, but also a mythical figure.
Can this man ever really be out of power? Can he?
In passing, I feel sorry for Ram Vilas Paswan and his campaign symbol—an Osama Bin Laden lookalike. I feel sorry for Nitish Kumar because he is not up against a person.
He is up against an institution.
He is up against an ideal—that being that in a truly democratic India, everyone has the right to be corrupt and exploit others regardless of the social station that they find themselves in by virtue of their birth.
Laloo and Rabri will be back.