RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Sunday described the Bihar assembly election as the war of the Mahabharata between the backward and forward castes. He asked Yadavs to “stay awake and remain united”, especially against Brahmins. “The RSS is full of Brahmins,” he said, and dared the Sangh and BJP to scrap quotas.
“Ye ladaai hai backward aur forward ki. Maine Mohan Bhagwat ko keh diya hai ki moochh mein dum hai to aarakshan khatam karo. Yeh tiranga nahin, bhagwa jhanda fahrana chaahta hai (This is a battle between backward castes and forward castes. I have challenged [RSS chief] Mohan Bhagwat — he should scrap reservation if he has the guts. He wants to hoist the saffron flag, not the Tricolour)”, Lalu told a modest gathering in Raghopur in Vaishali, from where his younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is contesting.
“Raghopur is my place, I have started (my campaign) from this pious place by the Ganga,” Lalu said. “I want you Yaduvanshis (Yadavs) to ward off external threats. Yadav so jaaye to puaal, jaag jaaye to sher. Jaag jao. Yeh Mahabharat hai (If Yadavs become inactive, they are only as good as [men of] straw, but if they awaken, they are lions. So wake up, this is the [war of the] Mahabharata).”
Lalu cautioned people against rumours spread through mobile phones, especially before Durga Puja that falls in the middle of the five-phase Bihar polls. He borrowed a mobile phone to show it to the crowd, saying the devices were “being controlled” by people in Mumbai and Delhi.
The former chief minister reminded people he had stopped L K Advani’s rath in 1990, when other chief ministers had not dared to do so.”The world started talking about this son of a Yadav standing in front of you,” Lalu said, speaking about himself. “Do you not remember having fought the police while protesting Advani’s yatra near Pillar Number One of the bridge?”
The RJD had engaged Bhojpuri singer Chhotu Chhalia before Lalu’s speech to sing a song about upper caste oppression in Bihar, and the empowerment of the backward castes after Lalu arrived on the scene. As the audience asked for more, Lalu allowed Chhalia to continue for longer.
Lalu repeated the story of Mokama muscleman Anant Singh’s alleged involvement in the killing of a Yadav youth — and how he had got Nitish Kumar to take action against Singh. He has been talking about Anant Singh at almost every public meeting in an attempt to consolidate backward votes.
At the meeting at Yadav-dominated Terasia village, Lalu for the first time took on his one-time protege Ram Kripal Yadav, who he alleged had accumulated a lot of wealth. “He (Ram Kripal) says I have done little for Yadavs. He is the first beneficiary,” Lalu said.
Tejashwi said his family had represented the Raghopur seat, and “those who say I will not come here after winning should know that I will build a house here to connect with you and listen to your problems”.
“You should stand united because this is not the election of Tejashwi and Tej Pratap but of entire Bihar, and the whole country is watching. Scrapping reservation is the main agenda of the RSS,” he said.
After Lalu prompted him to speak on dynastic rule, Tejashwi said: “I challenged BJP leaders to give affidavits saying all sons of BJP leaders would quit the positions they were holding. Ram Vilas Paswan should ask his son Chirag to quit his position. If he does so, I too will not accept any position. And what about the sons of former CMs Jagannath Mishra and Bhagwat Jha Azad?” Kirti Azad is a BJP MP and Nitish Mishra is a former minister who is seeking re-election from Jhanjharpur.
Tejashwi said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had been threatening to send his father to jail. “Please do not threaten us. When our kuldevta Lord Sri Krishna was born in jail, we are not at afraid of such threats”, said Tejashwi.