Wednesday, June 14, 2006
'dootho laalujeee deejiye pleeez'
politics is a great leveller.one moment your star is in the ascendency and in another your are down in the dumps.laalu prasad yadav, ex cm of bihar,and now a cabinet minister in the central government knows this better than anyone else.he is not the one to be dispirited by his setbacks. as a matter of fact he fights and comes back bouncing. known for heading the most corrupt goverment in bihar for more than a decade and for shielding murderers,rapists and other criminals he has umpteen cases against him for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.he was even sent to jail for a period of time but managed to get bail.that he lived a 5 star life in prison is a different story.
the media is in love with him.he has a native sense of humour and is quick on the repartee.he often gets painted as a clown or as a joker.surely,he must be hurt about his negative image.at the same time,the very fact that people want to see,hear,feel and chew more of laalu gives him one helluva kick.
in an earlier posting,i had written about laalu dolls a la barbie dolls.it had become a craze.and then there were laalu khainis(tobacco) which also became an instant hit. and the latest to hit the stands is lalu toffee. called 'laalu ka khazana' it has become a big hit with the children.like laalu himself,laalu toffees are soaring in popularity.they are available in rs1 and rs2 sachets.the wrapper is colourful and it carries two different caricatures of lalu-one as a politician and another as a magician.in the last three months about 300,000 packets of 'lalu ka khazana' have been sold in his homestate- muzzafarpur,chapra,gopalganj,madhubani and darbangha.lalu chocolates are even being hoarded.
when asked whether he has tasted his toffee,he replied 'i have heard about it. you taste it and let me know how good it is".
brand laalu has established it self.and shrewd businessmen are capitalising on it. the railway minister's rusticness and down to earth commonsense have impressed the high and mighty too. laalu himself is quite gung-ho these days with a dramatic turnaround in the finances of the railways'. ge chairman jeffery immelt and iim (a) faculty have praised him to the hilt.
when he visited pakistan a few years ago he became so popular that he was the envy of other indian politicians. there is a joke that lalu and bill clinton got on very well. once when he visited the white house,he decided to learn english from clinton.they were locked up in a room for many days and nights .people wondered what was happening. finally a dishevelled clinton emerged speaking the bhojpuri dialect!
his wife rabri(sweet) is a great source of strength for him.after all when he had to resign the post of cm when he was neck-deep in various scams,he played the masterstroke of appointing his wife rabri as the leader of their rjd party and she became the cm.that caught everone unawares.she was a homemaker,illiterate and knew nothing of politics .she carried the mantle as cm for a full term.
his brand value is no less than sachin tendulkar's or bigB's or even mahender singh dhoni's who hails from the same region. soon laalu will start asking for his pound of flesh. no free lunches anymore for the clever businessmen.