Addressing a public meeting after six years, in Tarapur ahead of the upcoming bypolls, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav on Wednesday slammed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over unemployment and lack of development in the country and in Bihar.
Ahead of public meetings, Mr. Prasad said in Patna that he had spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to call a meeting of “all like-minded people and parties” but later, this was strongly refuted by State Congress leaders as “fake and false”.
Recuperating from multiple diseases, Mr. Prasad reached the Idgah Maidan as a large, cheering crowd waited, and said, “I got Lal Krishna Advani arrested and never compromised over communal forces. I don’t fear anyone.”
The RJD chief was addressing a public meeting for the first time since the 2015 Assembly polls.
“I missed two elections — 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2020 Assembly polls,” Mr. Prasad noted.
He is scheduled to address another public meeting in Kusheshwarsthan, Darbhanga.
Bypolls for the Tarapur and Kusheshwarsthan seats are scheduled to take place on October 30. The results will be announced on November 2.
Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government at the Centre, Mr. Prasad said the Central Government had been selling every public enterprise.
“No work has been done in Bihar also. Only unemployment is around,” said Mr. Prasad, amid loud cheering from the largely young crowd.
Attacking Mr. Kumar, Mr. Prasad recalled, “Earlier, he used to vow — mitti mein mil jayenge, lekin BJP ke saath nahi jayenge (I’ll prefer to die but not to go with the BJP) — but what happened?”
“He also said he would support only those who would accord special status to Bihar. Where is that special status for the State?” asked Mr. Prasad.
The RJD chief also exhorted, “We all should fight for a caste-based census in the country. I am back and will continue to be among you people.”
Later, while addressing another public meeting at the Jhajhara High School ground in Kusheshwarsthan, Mr. Prasad said “in the 2020 Assembly poll, the people of the State made Tejashwi Yadav Chief Minister of Bihar but Nitish Kumar formed the government by cheating and manipulation”.
“Our victorious candidates were made to lose the poll, many by just 10 votes. Had I been outside, it would not have happened. But since I am back, I’ll take revenge and fix the account,” he said, while taking a dig at the “double engine” (BJP and Janata Dal-United) government in Bihar, saying, “is sarkar ko koi idhar to koi udhar kheench raha hai (this government is being pulled by different people in different directions)”.
Taking a potshot over the failure of Prohibition in the State, Mr. Prasad said, “In Bihar, rodents drink liquor.”
Earlier, while reacting to Mr. Prasad’s comment that he [Mr. Prasad] was “here to ensure the visarjan (immersion) of the BJP and the Chief Minister”, Mr. Kumar had said, “He can get me shot but he cannot do anything else.”
Referring to the remark, Mr. Prasad said, as the crowd cheered, “He [Nitish Kumar] thought visarjan means I was going to kill him…I’m not going to kill you…you will die yourself.”
Mr. Prasad, however, did not touch upon his party’s soured relations with the Congress. The Congress, too, has put up candidates for both seats, declaring “there is no mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar”.
In his eight-minute address, Mr. Prasad appealed to people to unite. “We all should unite to vote,” he said.
Before leaving for the public meetings at Tarapur and Kusheshwarsthan, Mr. Prasad told a news agency he had “spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and asked her to call a meeting of all like-minded people and parties to form a strong alternative to the BJP”.
“She [Sonia Gandhi] also enquired about my well-being and whereabouts,” Mr. Prasad said, but State Congress in-charge Bhakt Charan Das, later refuted that Mr. Prasad had had any talk with his party’s president.
“Lalu Prasad has no such talk with our party president. He is fooling people. If such things happened, I, being in-charge of the State unit of the party, must have known it,” Mr. Das said, while speaking to mediapersons.
Two State Congress leaders, too, denied that Mr. Prasad had spoken with Ms. Gandhi. “It appears to be a fake and false claim by RJD chief Lalu Prasad. He is losing people’s support, so must have made this claim in desperation. He is a master dramatist,” said Congress MLAs Shakeel Ahmad Khan and Ajit Sharma.