Modest roots and lifestyle of Lalu Yadav’s siblings

Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi were chief ministers of Bihar for 20 years but their extended family remained rooted in the peons’ quarters in Patna’s Veterinary College campus

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Pallavi Amitabha

A question was asked by many who read the recent piece on the death of Lalu Yadav's late sister, Gangotri Devi (75 yrs), who died of a heart attack on 7/1/18 on learning of her brother 's prison sentence.

Why did the late Gangotri Devi , sister of an ex CM, sister in law of another Ex CM , and aunt to a Dy CM and a Cabinet Minister of Bihar and an MP from Bihar, live and die in a servants’ quarters? And were these by any chance the servant's quarters of her famous brother, Lalu Prasad's official residence?

The facts that are generally known are as follows:

  • No, the late Gangotri Devi was not living in the servants quarters of the ex CM’s bungalow. She was living in the peon's quarters on the campus of the Veterinary College in Patna
  • She was a widow with three sons, one of whom died last year, one is a police constable and the third one has a job in the Railways .

Her husband or the son who died might have been employed in the Veterinary College and she might have been allowed to retain the quarters on compassionate grounds.

There is a long history involved here.

It is a known fact that Lalu Yadav's eldest brother was a peon in the Veterinary College in Patna, which has vast grounds and cattle sheds and peon's quarters . That is why I think peon's quarters is the more accurate description, rather than servants' quarters, to describe where Gangotri Devi was living.

Thanks to the eldest brother of Lalu Yadav, the rest of the family was supported especially after Lalu Yadav lost his father. Lalu came to study in Patna and lived with his brother while going to college here and doing law. It was here that he continued to live in a joint family even after marriage and after becoming an MLA.

Lalu Prasad was away from home a lot due to his political activities and terms he spent in jail under MISA during the Emergency when his eldest daughter was born. Rabri Devi was looked after by the elder brother's family as well as her own, who were close to his brother's family as well - real cattle rearers, a bit better off than Lalu's parents.

All his children down to the youngest, Tejaswi, with whom Rabri Devi was pregnant when Lalu Prasad was sworn in as CM were born in that house. She refused to move into CM's quarters till the baby was over a month old because she was so used to the joint family set up and felt odd and shy moving into the huge CM’s bungalow with strangers bustling about the place.

Lalu's eldest brother retained that house all through his life by virtue of his sons getting jobs there. This could be the same house where Gangotri Devi lived.

Her husband or one of her sons could also have been employed there. The family have always been very much at home in that huge college hostel and farm complex- socially as well because of the large number of Yadavs traditionally employed there formally as well as informally - as suppliers of fodder, or as manual labour.

This is what led to the Fodder Scam continuing in Lalu's era - it started long before: the family was close to, and in many cases indebted for small favours to officials of the AH Deptt associated with the Veterinary College. Their ambitions - as opposed to the ambitions of Rabri Devi's two notorious brothers whom she had to finally disown publicly - were limited, and they were happy with grade four or at best grade three jobs.

The real issue here is - had Lalu and family been the greedy, grabbing , fabulously rich money spinners that they are projected to have been, had they lost complete sight of their modest origins and nursed grand ambitions, they would not have been content with their modest lifestyle, or low status and low paid jobs.

These are down to earth practical people with failings and foibles but not greedy corporates or people with huge ambitions of boundless power and wealth, or delusions of grandeur that elitist media likes to project on to them .

No doubt Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav nurtured such illusions . But they were always an embarrassment to Lalu and he showed them the door long ago. Sadhu in fact joined the BJP with much fanfare.

This is a down to earth family which knows how to face challenges and fight adversity. That is what the Brahmanical establishment is terrified of.

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