Time is a great leveller, they say, and a peep into a secluded ward of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi could give you a startling snapshot of how unpredictably harsh it can be at times. Lonely, forlorn and worn down by ailments creeping up on him like a pack of hyenas, there lies a man who once strode the land like an insouciant emperor. Charismatic, burlesque, irreverent of old graces—and the unmoving feudal power they rested on—he came like a messiah of seemingly apocalyptic change, almost a force of nature. Today, the once-mighty Laloo Prasad Yadav is reduced to a mere prisoner-patient, being treated for a kidney beginning to give way, the fruit of long and acute diabetes, while doing time after his conviction in the infamous Rs 950-crore fodder scam cases. Barring once-a-week interactions with visitors, he spends most of his time in solitude. But even in this state, you can’t take Laloo out of Bihar—as his own jokey proverbial coinage went—or indeed out of politics.