| Lalu Prasad addresses RJD workers at 10 Circular Road on Wednesday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, July 27: Lalu Prasad ended a five-month hiatus from the state today and announced that he would begin from scratch to boost the morale of his party cadres, making them “potent” to carry out a sustained campaign against the Nitish Kumar government which he said was “failing on all fronts”.
After the Assembly poll debacle in November 2010, Lalu Prasad had declared that he would keep silent for six months and allow the government to work. True to his word, he stayed out of the state most of the time during the last seven months, preferring to stay put in Delhi. If at all he visited Patna, he kept it brief and uneventful.
He last visited Bihar on February 27 to attend the birth anniversary of saint Ravidas. He even skipped the foundation day celebrations of his party on July 5.
However, the alleged “irregularities” in the allotment of Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada) plots to the relatives and friends of certain ministers and senior IAS officers and the Opposition clamour for a CBI probe has provided Lalu with the opportunity to hit back at Nitish.
“There is a big scandal involved in the allotment of Biada lands to the kith and kin of ministers and bureaucrats. We are not going to sit silent,” Lalu Prasad said on arriving in Patna today.
“When I heard about this scam, I thought that Nitish would surely take action against the ministers and officials involved in getting plots for their wards and relatives.”
“But I was really upset to find that he (Nitish) handed over the probe to the chief secretary, Anup Mukerji, who preferred to cover up the culprits rather than bringing them to justice,” Lalu Prasad said. “Giving the probe to the chief secretary amounted to assigning a cat to guard a milk pot. The government must recommend a CBI probe into the issue.”
Lalu might have been dismayed to see only about 100 supporters to greet him at the airport. There were hardly 500 people the RJD workers’ meet that he addressed at the official residence of his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi at 10 Circular Road.
Besides, none of the party MPs, including Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagdanand Singh and Umashankar Singh (he has already left the RJD), were present.
But true to style, Lalu put up a brave face indulging in fun and frolic and mocking at Nitish in an apparent bid to keep the cadre morale high.
“Nitish dreams of becoming India’s Prime Minister. He (Nitish) is doing everything to realise his dream. The costly SUVs sent to Bihar’s hinterlands to procure signatures in support of the special category status demand were part of Nitish’s strategy to become Prime Minister. He has his eyes on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” the RJD chief said.
“I too had been fooled to have dreamt of becoming Prime Minister,” he added.
Lalu then shifted gears, calling upon his cadres to stay optimistic. “I heard that Shakeel Ahmad Khan had left the RJD. But Shyam Rajak, Ramvachan Rai and many others left the RJD, proving that they were greedy people and sycophants of power,” he said. “Political power comes and goes. I am not pessimistic. You too should work with all the optimism at your disposal. Better days will come again.”
Lalu ruled out that he had ever haggled for a ministerial berth during the last reshuffle of the cabinet.
“I am aware that many channels aired the news that I was in the race of becoming a minister when I went to meet Sonia Gandhi. But leading the life of a professional politician for about four decades, I am not a fool. I know that I have the strength of only four MPs which cannot make me a minister,” he said, adding that he had met Sonia to discuss issues related to Bihar.
The RJD boss asserted that he did not harbour any ambition of becoming a minister or Prime Minister. Instead, he said, he would fan out in village after village in Bihar to find out from the people why they had rejected him.
“I have been the leader of the masses. I will meet my masses and talk to them one to one. I will, henceforth, devote all my time among the people who have been my source of strength throughout my life,” he said.
Advising his cadres not to be perturbed by the desertion by leaders in this hour of crisis, Lalu Prasad said: “The RJD is like an ocean. Drawing a bucket of water will hardly make a difference in the ocean. Our party is as strong as ever.”
Nitish, he said, was working to split the RJD. “But it will not cause any damage to the party’s spirit and health. Rather, we will push the Nitish government out of power ahead of it completing its second term,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui, state party chief Ramchandra Purbey, party MP Ramkripal Yadav and former MPs Prabhunath Singh and Raghunath Jha stood shoulder to shoulder with Lalu.