Lalu scoffs at BJP's attempts to wean away Yadavs

Lalu scoffs at BJP's attempts to wean away Yadavs

Patna, Nov 14 (PTI) RJD president Lalu Prasad on Tuesday heaped scorn on the BJP's attempts to woo the Yadav people, members of the most populous caste of Bihar who have been his loyal supporters for close to three decades.

Prasad addressed a function organised at the ISKCON temple here on the occasion of Govardhan Puja, a festival associated with Lord Krishna, whose descendants are believed to be Yadavs.

'I was not feeling like stepping out of home when I received the invitation for this function. But then I watched on TV the function organised by the BJP and decided otherwise,' said the ailing septuagenarian, referring to the saffron party’s 'Yaduvanshi Milan' programme.

'One BJP leader after another kept ranting against me. They invoke the name of Lord Krishna but they are like Kansa (demon king and maternal uncle slain by the deity). Do they realise that but for my ascendance in politics, they would have been without any standing,' Prasad said.

The RJD supremo, who burst on the national political scene in the 1990s when he became the Chief Minister of Bihar riding the Mandal wave, recalled the days when backward classes were allegedly not able to exercise their franchise since booths were captured by those with muscle and money power.

'The backward classes had numbers. But that was not reflected in politics. It changed after I took over,' said Prasad, who ruled the state for seven years, followed by an eight-year-long term enjoyed by his wife Rabri Devi.

He lashed out at Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who had questioned Prasad's decision to hoist Rabri Devi as the chief minister, instead of entrusting somebody else in his party with the top job.

'Rai should tell me did he expect me to make his wife the chief minister,' said Prasad with trademark cheekiness, evoking peals of laughter from the crowd.

Prasad also claimed that Rai had approached him for an entry into the RJD but got carried away by the promise of his higher-ups in the BJP, who promised to make him the chief minister of Bihar.

'He (Rai) calls himself a devotee of Krishna but chants the name of Narendra Modi as if the Prime Minister were his deity,' the RJD chief said.

Prasad also alleged that Rai, who had spoken of cow protection in his speech, was 'himself involved in cattle trade' and that 'he will lose his deposit if we field Tej Pratap (Prasad's elder son, seen as a loose cannon) against him'.

Prasad also trained his guns at former sidekick Ram Kripal Yadav, who had quit the RJD to join the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and served as a Union minister in the first Narendra Modi administration.

'All residents of Patna know that Ram Kripal brought a bad name to my government in Bihar by capturing hotels and other businesses,' alleged the RJD supremo.

Lavishing praise on the Nitish Kumar government, in which his younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav is the Deputy CM, Prasad said, 'The move to hike reservations to 75 per cent is no small step. Besides, the government is fulfilling its promise of providing government jobs. Lakhs of recruitments have taken place and many more are in store.' The Bihar assembly on November 9 hiked the quota for deprived castes from 50 per cent to 65 per cent in government jobs and educational institutions, taking the overall reservation to 75 per cent.

The RJD supremo, who enjoys unflinching support of Muslims ever since he got BJP leader L K Advani arrested, stopping the Ram Rath Yatra in its tracks, also expressed concern over the rise in 'sectarian tensions' under the current dispensation in the country. PTI NAC NN

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