Just a few days after securing bail,having spent two months in a Ranchi jail following his conviction in a fodder scam case,Lalu Prasad visited relief camps in Muzaffarnagar in UP. Here,the RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister who has always,and flamboyantly,taken the battle to communal forces,attacked the BJP-RSS while pointedly sparing the SP government. Yet,that visit brought on an angry tirade from SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. In this interview,Lalu talks about the Muzaffarnagar visit and its fallout,his views on the AAP and corruption,and an impending tie-up with the Congress:
You visited the relief camps on Sunday. What did you see?
This (communal violence) has happened by design. It followed the announcement of Narendra Modi as the BJPs prime ministerial candidate and after Amit Shah was given the responsibility to look after BJP affairs in UP. Now there is fear in the peoples minds. They dont want to return home. The government must not compel them to do so. It must assess the situation,let them stay on. This is not such a difficult thing for a government to do to resettle people near police stations and in areas where the density of the Muslim population is high so that they feel protected.
For the communal forces,this is their agenda,of hatred against Muslims and all minorities. We have seen it happen before,we have borne the brunt. Rumours are floated,character assassination is done. It is happening not just in UP,but in the entire country. The RSS is at work,its wholetimers are constantly on the job.
But Muzaffarnagar is in a state ruled by a party that flaunts its secular credentials. Where do you think the Akhilesh Yadav administration failed?
In the initial days,when leaders of the ruling party went to the camps,they saw the people were angry. Perhaps they became apprehensive about facing the people. Even if people throw stones and shoes at you,you should go to them. He (Akhilesh) belongs to a party whose main plank is its sensitivity to minority concerns. He should show them that he is on their side,that his government is making efforts to get them into the mainstream.
Mulayam Singh Yadav has now lashed out at you,called you a Congress sycophant.
I dont know why he said so. When I visited the camps,I had merely pointed out that it is wrong to say the camps are filled with BJP and Congress agents and to send bulldozers to evict refugees. But I also said that the government was being misinformed and misled by its officials. I spoke to Akhilesh from the Loi relief camp,asked him to go to the camps himself or send someone senior to listen to the people directly. I dont know why Mulayam lashed out at me. Perhaps it is because I said I am tying up with the Congress.
In recent times,there has been much talk on corruption. The ordinance that would have allowed a convicted legislator to retain his seat while appealing the verdict was withdrawn. You lost your Lok Sabha seat. Do you think thats fair?
The BJP has betrayed democratic rights by shifting its stand on the ordinance. It was part of the all-party meeting where it was decided to reverse the courts decision on convicted legislators. But on the floor of the House,the party went back on its position,gave flimsy reasons. Then they paraded to Rashtrapati Bhavan,claiming that it (the ordinance) was being brought in to save Lalu.
It is only fair that if we have a system where we can appeal the decision of a lower court in a higher court,everyone must be given the time to appeal. Then they said a member would be allowed to retain his seat,but would not get a salary,would not be allowed to vote in the House. That is absurd. Why,if he was not allowed to participate,would a legislator want to remain in the House?
No one should trust the RSS and the BJP. There was only one good man in that party,but now Atalji is ill.
But it wasnt just the BJP. Rahul Gandhi forced the government to withdraw the ordinance.
He is not against me. It is just that the BJP kicked up a fuss and there were four assembly elections round the corner. But this is all nonsense,I am amused when they talk about wiping out corruption.
How do you look at the Aam Aadmi Party and its success?
Delhis people will soon find out what they have got themselves into. They (AAP) were no match for Sheila Dikshit,they only knew how to accuse and allege. They deal in abuse and invective. First they said they wouldnt do politics. Now they are a party and are even in power,while Anna (Hazare) has been relegated.
Were you,too,surprised by the AAPs electoral performance?
In this country,the voter has been corrupted. Every party offers him a freebie for his vote free laptops,rice,wheat,electricity. Those who are poor also think the AAP will do something,that it comes from a more honest mould. But where are the resources? Why will a private company give you electricity for free? They (AAP) should make announcements with care,promise only what they can deliver. Tomorrow,if Pakistan attacks us,will they first rush to the people to ask them what is to be done? How many things will you ask the public?
How close are you to a tie-up with the Congress for the 2014 polls?
Our effort is on. We will tie up with Ram Vilas Paswans LJP also.
In Bihar,can such an alliance take on Nitish Kumar? Has the situation changed after the JD(U)-BJP split?
Nitish Kumar is not a factor in Bihar. It will be a one-sided contest now. There was a difference of only a little over 3 per cent between the vote share of the JD(U) and the RJD in the last assembly elections. Now that they are divided,they are a defeated force.