By Sushil Kutty
Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter, Misa Bharati, was named after the infamous Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). The dreaded MISA was invoked to send many to prison before being relegated to the pages of history. Lalu himself has had several prison visits and it was only recently that he left one. Nobody likes to be in prison, not even politicians, but some have done well in prison.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru went to jail and returned with a halo on their heads. Not Veer Savarkar or Lalu Prasad Yadav. Gandhi and Nehru did not grind any grain or break any stones. They had it pretty easy, except they were behind bars. Time well spent, actually! As the books they wrote in prison testify to that.
Savarkar in Andaman’s Cellular Jail was yoked under the yoke of a bull and sentenced to restitution in oil. Lalu Yadav had relatively mild times in hospital breaks. Now the CBI is after Lalu and he could end up in jail again. The caged bird sleuths attacked “17 tikhanas” belonging to the Lalu Yadav family in New Delhi and Patna for their alleged role in the land-by-railway scam. Among those who fall prey are Misa Bharati and the family’s second Chief Minister, Lalu’s wife Raabdi Devi.
There is also Hema Yadav, a lesser known daughter of Lalu Prasad. At least journalists will remember Lalu saying he wanted to turn Bihar’s potholes into Hema Malini’s cheeks! Those were better times for Prasad and his family of 11! Now the Bihar Yadavs are not in power, and the CBI can’t wait to get its slippery fingers on the Lalu family, all in one fell swoop.
Of course, a veil of gloom has descended upon the Lalu clan, and if anyone can comprehend Lalu’s anxieties and anxieties, it will be just-released former UP minister and estranged Samajwadi Party stalwart Azam Khan, who, just as Lalu Prasad, is no longer his former self.
The prison has left its horrific marks on Azam Khan. There was a time when Azam Khan’s one word sent the police of an entire UP district to search behind every bush for “Azam Khan’s buffalo!” The buffalo were apprehended and then, to no one’s surprise, Azam Khan made lewd comments about actress Jayapradha’s purple underwear!
If time can tell, the reformed Azam Khan must have left his mind in the cell where he spent 27 months. Again, no politician likes to spend time. Ask the former Home Secretary P Chidambaram and Karthi Chidambaram. Both father and son had spent days in Tihar, and now we hear that Karthi, who has filed for anticipatory bail, could return for playing illegal Chinese checker!
It’s creepy, and this is important, most politicians don’t seem to learn from their time in prison. Perhaps Navjot Singh Sidhu will. Time and tide wait for no one, but Sidhu is an exception. The time was waiting for him. The cricketer-turned-comedian and politician beat an elderly person 30 years ago and the man died. And just when he thought he had cheated the prison, Sidhu was sentenced to a year in prison.
Sidhu can joke and joke with the jailer and fellow inmates all year round. The year is over. But like Lalu and Azam, Sidhu won’t be the same, which will be a loss for Comedy Circus. The only person in the subcontinent who has to worry and mourn is Imran Khan. Last heard, the prison was waiting for ‘The Khan’.
In short, these are not good days for cricketers turned politicians. Sidhu has asked for “more time to surrender”, but he will go to jail whether it rains or shines. And maybe he will be the first politician to go to jail and then make prison reform the No. 1 priority on his release. So many politicians don’t have that, and most of the leading BJP politicians know the inside of an Indian prison.
They are the worst in the world. Some would even scare those of Ecuador and Colombia. Our politicians, who remain respected citizens even after being convicted of rape and murder – financial fraud and outrageous defrauding – must be given the best prison facilities.
Home Secretary Amit Shah, who was detained in Sabarmati Central Prison for an alleged role in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake meeting case, should himself investigate India’s prisons. If not for someone else, then for the sake of politicians like Anil Deshmukh, Nawab Malik and Navjot Singh Sidhu, who deserves a smile on all 365 days of his incarceration for all the laughter he spread when he was free as a bird, and not a prisoner! (IPA service)
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