Lalu in prison, his family sticks together at Patna residence

TejaswiLalu's sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap met RJD supporters at their residence.

It isn't 1997, but at Patna's 10, Circular Road, time stands still. Sixteen years after he pulled wife Rabri Devi out of the hat as his successor for chief ministership when he was first arrested in a fodder scam case, Lalu Prasad has again fallen back on family to get him and his party through troubled times.

Rabri, 38 then, was a political novice. The son considered Lalu's successor, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, is 24 and walking gingerly in his father's shadow. However, the RJD appears willing to rally behind Tejashwi too. The party is also convinced of once again turning Lalu's incarceration to its advantage.

The doors to the Lalu household are open to all these days. Basanti Devi has come from Buxar, 130 km away, to express solidarity. A RJD worker belonging to an extremely backward class, Basanti says people are very angry about Lalu being sentenced for five years.

Rabri has met over 300 party workers since the morning. The number is expected to swell as the day progresses.

Tejashwi, the youngest son and the RJD's most vocal voice, tries to meet each of them despite a sore throat. Tej Pratap, the eldest son, greets some party workers before heading to the RJD office. In the battle for sweepstakes, the two have reached a balance. Pratap, the less charismatic, has taken the back seat.

While he occasionally takes part in political activities, especially in "galvanising the youth", it is clear that Tejashwi is the man in charge. Pursuing graduation from Patna's B N College, Pratap is also believed to be more religiously inclined.

Tejashwi had other interests too. A promising cricketer, he was part of the Delhi Daredevils IPL team. In new whites now, he is as much a natural. He talks about having had a ringside view of politics, and about moving ahead on his own strength. He also narrates anecdotes to establish his father's humble origins, and claims he himself never felt privileged.

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