Patna: RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, who has milked to the last drop Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a review of the reservation policy, feels BJP’s fate has been “sealed” by the RSS chief’s remarks and claims a 1995-like situation prevails in Bihar when Janata Dal had emerged triumphant in “Mandal versus Kamandal” politics.
Under vicious attack from BJP for his “Hindus also eat beef remarks”, he says he is a true “gopalak” (one who rears cows) and that his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi”washes the ‘feet’ of every new cow that comes home”. Surrounded by his supporters and sipping his favourite ‘nimbu chai’ after a string of election meetings, Lalu shows a book by M S Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak of the RSS– “Bunch of Thoughts”. “Golwalkar had said that reservation should be provided on economic basis. The present leadership of RSS is following the thought of its guru (Golwalkar). Dalits and Backwards got reservation after decades of struggle and they want to snatch it now,” he told PTI in an interview.
He said there is a “pattern” behind behind Bhagwat’s remarks. “That is their original thought process. Their psyche is against SC/ST and OBC. What was their inner core came out. They were caught red handed. And we galvanized the SC/ST and OBC against them, telling the weaker sections what the BJP is upto. This has sealed BJP’s fate and finished their game, as the beneficiaries of social justice have come together,” he said. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP publicly distancing themselves from Bhagwat’s remarks, Lalu said it was not an “off the cuff” statement but a reflection of the “thought process” of the RSS and BJP. “The grand alliance spread the word to every nook and corner of the state and this has led to a polarisation of the deprived classes against the NDA and that sealed its fate,” Lalu, one of the most enduring symbols of Mandal politics, said.
The RJD chief also attacked Modi for his views on caste system. “Modi had written in a book ‘Karmyog’ that Dalits do manual scavenging for spiritual delight. Why not people from RSS, including Bhagwat, take up this experience of spiritual delight. He is the Prime Minister of the country and he had written that. This is the thought process that wants the Dalits and OBCs to continue to suffer humiliation,” he alleged. Accusing the RSS and BJP of working against the “spirit of Constitution”, Prasad said while the Constitution allowed the right to franchise and right to contest polls even to the illiterate, BJP governments in Rajasthan and Haryana have made a minimum qualification mandatory for contesting civic bodies elections.
“This is another conspiracy against the backward classes to deny them the electoral opportunities under the pretext of degrees. If we become silent, they will make some law that only BA or MA pass outs can contest elections as they believe that only a few castes, which have got high education, should rule the nation and the rest should serve them (baaki sabhi unki maalish karte rahe),” he said. Taking on the BJP for its attempts at “religious polarisation” by repeatedly harping on his “Hindus also eat beef” remark, Lalu said the saffron party tried to turn the cow-rearing Yadav community against him. “They want to communalise the atmosphere. There are fifty cows at my residence. My wife washes the feet of every new cow that comes home. Many people keep dogs at their homes, we rear cows. “They (BJP and RSS) are making noises. Let Modi tell there will be no butcheries in the country. Former Press Council of India Chief Markandey Katju, who is a Kashmiri Brahmin, says he eats beef. I do not want to go into that debate. This is their conspiracy,” he said.
Lalu referred to meat exports from Gujarat and rise in beef exports from the country in last one year to claim the controversy over beef consumption was created by the BJP for “political reasons”. Claiming that minorities are fully behind the grand alliance in Bihar, the RJD chief said, “RSS and BJP have got into a habit of doing politics of religion. They do benefit from it somewhere some time but not in Bihar.” “What they did in Dadri? A poor Muslim was murdered without any rhyme or reason. Is this what they had promised in Lok Sabha polls. They had sought votes in the name of development then,” he said.
The RJD boss rubbished allegations about attempts by him at caste polarisation, saying “We did not start the caste talk. Prime Minister Modi came and tried to project himself as a great supporter of Yaduvanshis. He said he belonged to Dwarka, the city of Lord Krishna. We all know what he is. “He thought he would be able to drive a wedge among the Yaduvanshis and win the polls. That is not going to happen. Then he created a scare about some Jungle Raj. Yadavs are descendents of Lord Krishna. We are saviours. We stand by the weaker sections,” he said.
Lalu claimed the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance was way ahead of the NDA in the first two phases of 5-phase assembly elections where poll has already been taken in 81 of the 243 seats. “BJP-led NDA won the last Lok Sabha polls due to a division between us. Once we got united, it is now becoming increasingly clear where the BJP alliance stands. They have been cut to size,” he said, expressing confidence that the ‘secular’ alliance will do well in the next three phases too. The RJD leader, who has been barred from contesting elections following his conviction in a fodder scam case, also dismissed talks about his sons being contenders for Deputy Chief Ministerhip and repeatedly asserted that the election is being fought under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, who will be the Chief Minister if the grand alliance came to power.
“Is that an issue for us? We have come together to defeat BJP and Modi. Nobody is a contender. Nitish will be the CM,” he said. In 1995, the Janata Dal had then won 167 of the state’s 324 seats in undivided Bihar when the two backward class heavyweights–Lalu and Nitish were together. Lalu said the present alliance under Nitish will break even the previous record and win 180 seats.