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'Sadhu' by Name, 'Villain' in RJD: Season 2 of Lalu's 'Sasural' Drama Has More Ploys & Trouble for Him

'Sadhu' by Name, 'Villain' in RJD: Season 2 of Lalu's 'Sasural' Drama Has More Ploys & Trouble for Him

Having been sidelined by Lalu Yadav and his wife for over a decade now, Rabri Devi's brother Sadhu Yadav is back in the poll battle from Maharajganj on BSP ticket.

Patna: Filmmaker Prakash Jha had chosen ‘Sadhu Yadav’ as name of the villain in his Bollywood action flick 'Gangajal' in 2003. The real one — Anirudh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav, the controversial brother-in-law of Lalu Prasad Yadav — was full of fire and brimstone against Jha and threatened to block its release in Bihar because his name resembled that of the anti-hero in the film. Sadhu then had full support of his chief minister brother-in-law Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Sixteen years later, Sadhu is playing a ‘villain’ for the RJD chief and his bhagina (sister’s son) Tejashwi Prasad Yadav by entering the electoral arena as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate against RJD nominee Randhir Singh in the Maharajganj Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to polls on May 12.

Sadhu is bound to queer the poll pitch for the RJD nominee Randhir Singh as well as the sitting BJP MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal.

Having been sidelined by Lalu Yadav and his elder sister Rabri Devi for over a decade now, Sadhu had recently hogged the limelight when he stood by his elder bhagina Tej Pratap Yadav on the issue of his divorce with spouse Aishwarya Rai. Quite often, Sadhu has openly displayed his strong bonding with Tej Pratap Yadav, who has been sulking over ‘undue projection’ of his younger brother Tejashwi.

Though the RJD candidate and Tejashwi appeared unfazed by Sadhu’s entry into the fray as BSP nominee, Sadhu’s presence seemingly does not augur well for party’s electoral prospects. It may hinder party’s attempts to re-claim the lost ground in Maharajganj, where its candidate Prabhunath Singh had lost to BJP’s Janardan Singh Sigriwal in 2014.

The contest is keen in this constituency, also called Chittorgarh of Bihar, as two powerful Rajput candidates are fighting for political survival. Barring couple of elections since 1957, no other caste candidate has won from this constituency except Rajputs. It has been represented by stalwarts like former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar.

Since 1998, it has been the stronghold of Prabhunath Singh, who represented it four times. Prabhunath is currently undergoing a jail term in an MLA murder case and now his son Randhir Singh is trying to reclaim his father’s seat. Pitted against him is BJP’s Janardan Singh Sigriwal, who is banking on Narendra Modi’s charisma.

But Sadhu is trying to drive a wedge into the RJD’s traditional vote bank besides mobilising the Dalit votes in the name of Mayawati. “The constituencies located along the Uttar Pradesh border have considerable influence of Mayawatijee. Since people in general are annoyed with both the BJP and the RJD, I am getting a good response and I have a fair chance of winning this time,” Sadhu said.

Sadhu Yadav had won as RJD candidate from the neighbouring Gopalganj Lok Sabha seat in 2004 by the grace of his brother-in-law Lalu Prasad Yadav. He, however, deserted Lalu when denied ticket in 2009 and joined the Congress to become party’s candidate from West Champaran.

“The story of Bhasmasur holds true in this case. Lalu had given preference to dynastic rule by promoting his wife and two salas — Sadhu Yadav and Subash Yadav — at the cost of genuine party leaders. Now, they are paying him back in the same coin,” said a senior RJD leader on condition of anonymity.

It is true that during the 15-year Lalu-Rabri regime, the two brothers-in-law literally ruled the state and did everything to embarrass the duo. Despite facing sharp jibes from the opposition and RJD leaders, both Lalu and Rabri were always found to be indulgent on them. Lalu made Sadhu and Subhash MLCs first and later nominated one of them to Rajya Sabha.

This is not the first time that the bitter brothers of his better half Rabri Devi have turned against Lalu. In February 2005 assembly polls, Sadhu’s wife Indira Yadav, who was denied RJD ticket, had unsuccessfully contested as an Independent in Gopalganj. His another brother-in-law and Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Yadav had also fielded his wife Renu Devi as an Independent candidate from Mirganj Assembly constituency in Gopalganj district in November 2005 assembly polls. She had also lost.

Sadhu had also embarrassed the RJD chief in the run-up to the last assembly polls when he took head-on the then RJD MP from Siwan, Md Shahabuddin, describing him as a ‘slur on the Muslim community’ and a ‘liability’ for the party. In fact, it was a turf war between the two satraps claiming the same political field. While Sadhu Yadav represented Gopalganj seat, now reserved, Shahabuddin is the former MP from neighbouring Siwan, where his spouse Hena Shahab is trying her luck for the third time.

Sadhu’s name also figured in the multi-crore flood relief scam, in which he had to surrender and seek bail. In the infamous Shilpi Jain case, the CBI had put pressure on him to undergo the DNA test but he refused to do so. He also provoked an attack on JNU students in Bihar Bhawan, much to the discomfiture of the RJD leadership.

In 2009, Sadhu revolted against Lalu over denial of ticket from West Champaran Lok Sabha seat, which went to the Lok Janshakti Party-led by Ram Vilas Paswan in seat adjustment. Sadhu joined Congress and secured nomination from the West Champaran seat. It was a sheer coincidence that Sadhu had to face Prakash Jha in the electoral battle six years after Jha had named him as villain in the Gangajal movie.

Eventually, he was expelled from RJD and his sister Rabri Devi described his exit as a ‘good riddance’ for the party which was dubbed as ‘sasural party’ by the opponents. It also indicated a marked shift in Lalu’s way of politics and paved the way for the emergence of his two sons in the RJD.

Sadhu’s stint with the Congress continued till his expulsion in 2013 following his meeting with the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Sadhu had heaped praises on Narendra Modi, saying that the BJP strongman has better qualities to become Prime Minister than Rahul Gandhi. But his ambition to join the BJP could not be fulfilled due to strong opposition to his entry into the BJP by party’s Bihar leaders, especially deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

Sadhu does not credit his brother-in-law Lalu Yadav for his entry into politics. “I began my political career from Gopalganj almost simultaneously as Lalujee. He was senior in politics. But it would be wrong to say that he was political mentor,” Sadhu claimed.

Sadhu’s younger brother Subhash Yadav is languishing in oblivion after he lost the assembly elections from Bikram seat in 2010 as an independent candidate. Subhash, too, used to run a parallel power centre but he has now chosen to stay away from limelight and runs his educational institutions.

(The author is a senior journalist)