"Will Die But Won't Retreat": Lalu Yadav's First Appearance After Jail

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, fighting for the first time without Lalu Yadav leading its campaign, finished first in the November Bihar election.

Lalu Yadav was granted bail after more than three years in jail after being convicted in fodder cases.

New Delhi:

Bihar politician Lalu Yadav, in his first public address in a long time, said he was alive because of his son Tejashwi Yadav and vowed not to hold back in the fight against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Visibly thinner and often slurring his words at an event to mark 25 years of the party he founded, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief praised Tejashwi Yadav, the leader of opposition in Bihar, for the way he led the party in last year's Bihar election.

"Frankly, I had never expected this from him. He safely steered the RJD's boat. RJD has a bright future," said Lalu Yadav, a proud father.

"But for them (wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi), I would have perished in Ranchi."

Promising his party he would be back in the game soon, he declared: "We will die but we will not retreat."

The RJD, fighting for the first time without Lalu Yadav leading its campaign, finished first in the November Bihar election but the BJP and Nitish Kumar's coalition had the most numbers to form a government.

Lalu Yadav was granted bail after more than three years in jail after being convicted in fodder scam cases.

In jail since December 2017, the 72-year-old served most of his jail sentence at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Jharkhand. He was brought to Delhi in January after his health worsened.

According to reports, he is convalescing at his daughter Misa Bharti's home in Delhi. Many believed that the former Chief Minister was conspicuously missing his trademark humour and one-liners.

In his address, Mr Yadav attacked the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Nitish Kumar administration in Bihar for their "many failures" and recalled his own political journey.

"GST and demonetisation as also corona have created an economic crisis. Now, there is the threat of destroying the social fabric. After Ayodhya, some people are talking about Mathura," Mr Yadav said, not naming either the ruling BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said he was instrumental in making "five prime ministers" and his party was still strong with its members also in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

He also hit out at allegations of Nitish Kumar and other critics that his and his wife Rabri Devi's rule in the 1990s and marked a period of "jungle raj" or lawlessness in Bihar.

"We ensured that the poor and the weaker sections reached polling booths. They (his critics) got angry as the poor got their due," the RJD leader remarked, adding that he would fight these powers, come what may.

He also attacked the Nitish Kumar government over "rampant corruption", alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis and "murders" taking place in the state every day.

Mr Yadav also praised his older son Tej Pratap Yadav, commenting that he made a "forceful speech".

He promised RJD workers and leaders that he would overcome his illness and visit Bihar soon.

"I will come to Patna soon...not only Patna, I will mark my attendance in all districts of Bihar soon. Please don't lose patience," he said. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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