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Saturday, January 22, 2022

King Mahendra: The medicine baron who became JDU’s longest-serving RS MP

Mahendra Prasad, who died in a Delhi hospital at the age of 81, is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: December 27, 2021 4:57:13 pm
Mahendra Prasad, who came from a Jehanabad village, is a real rags-to-riches story. (Twitter/akhileshPdsingh)

JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Mahendra Prasad, better known as King Mahendra, hardly came off as a practising politician. Yet, he would often say that “if one Rajya Sabha seat is vacant in the JD(U), it would go to him.” One may call it his “political swagger.” But it was mainly because of his influence in financially supporting and raising a regional party like JD(U) as one of the prime financers.

One would hardly remember any of his speeches in Rajya Sabha to comment on state politics but he was one politician who enjoyed a big clout in the party through his image as a medicine baron, the proud owner of Aristo Pharmaceuticals and Mapra Laboratories Private Limited.

According to his 2018 poll affidavit, Mahendra was the richest Bihar MP with assets worth over Rs 4,000 crore.

Mahendra Prasad, who died in a Delhi hospital at the age of 81, is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. Prasad, who came from a Jehanabad village, is a real rags-to-riches story. The man rose from working as a teacher to becoming Congress Lok Sabha MP from Jehanabad in 1980 before he was recognised as a medicine baron. After Congress lost its impact and power, he turned to RJD and later to JD(U) and remained the party’s longest-serving Rajya Sabha member from Bihar. At the time of his death, he was in his seventh-term as RS MP, having entered the Upper House in 1985.

Condoling his death, PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “Saddened by the passing away of Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Mahendra Prasad Ji. He served in Parliament for many years and was at the forefront of several community service efforts. He always spoke for the welfare of Bihar and its people. Condolences to his family. Om Shanti.”

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar termed Prasad’s death “a big loss to society and politics.” Kumar, currently on the road for Samaj Sudhar Abhiyan, said: “Mahendra Prasad’s death has created a big void in politics and society.”

A resident of Govindpur village of Jehanabad, Prasad had left his home at the age of 24 after he was unable to find a job. He had a degree in Economics at the time. He worked as a teacher in a school near his village but it was Bombay (now Mumbai) that was on his mind.

When he returned home after 16 years, he had established himself as a successful businessman. When he started campaigning with several cars in tow, people started addressing him as “King Mahendra”. Prasad made his debut in politics as an MP in 1980 but he always remained a businessman first. He also worked in the field of higher education and opened a college near Jehanabad after becoming an MP.

A JD(U) leader said Prasad was never interested in getting the position of a minister. “He was only interested in being Rajya Sabha MP”, said the leader. Prasad, who lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, became RS member in 1985 because of his closeness to then PM Rajiv Gandhi.

Prasad seldom interfered in JD (U)’s internal politics, nor did he try to throw undue weight. He perhaps knew the difference between politics and business. He never mixed it.

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