| RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Sabha MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (left) sit on a dharna at JP roundabout near Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, Aug. 6: Lalu Prasad today took the first step in reclaiming lost political ground in the state by sitting on what his party had christened a “maha-dharna” against the Nitish Kumar government’s “abject failure” on all fronts.
The RJD boss would have got a shot in the arm by the presence of two Lok Sabha MPs, Jagdanand Singh and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who is believed to be unhappy with the way the party has been functioning. The RJD’s Maharajganj MP, Umashan-kar Singh, has already deserted Lalu Prasad. For the leader therefore, the sight of party legislators, former MPs and hundreds of cadres at the dharna site at JP statue, near Gandhi Maidan, would have been a morale booster.
“I was silent for six months, not for grabbing a ministerial berth in New Delhi but because of my commitment to watch the Nitish government without speaking. Now I am back to fight against Nitish’s misrule. The RJD will organise a march to Raj Bhavan on August 11. Villagers from all across the state will join that march,” Lalu Prasad announced.
The RJD chief has vowed to reconnect with the masses. For this, the party cadres will organise a rally at Forbesganj on September 5 to protest against the killing of five persons in police firing on June 3.
On July 27, Lalu Prasad had set foot in Patna for the first time in six months to galvanise the sagging morale of the party workers and promised to wage a fight against the Nitish regime.
For Lalu, his primary concern would be on how to win back his support base, primarily the Muslims who constitute almost 14 per cent of the state’s electorate. Besides, a large chunk of the non-Yadav extremely backward castes and other ba-ckward castes have shi-fted to the JD(U)-led alliance. Possibly because of this, the RJD chief is harping more on the police firing at Forbesganj than on any other issue. “My party will pay Rs 5 lakh to the family members of the deceased in the Forbes-ganj firing. We will gather lakhs of people at Forbesganj on September 5 to protest aga-inst the police excesses on Muslims there,” he said.
Forbesganj lies in Araria district, which falls in a region that is equated with Kashmir in Bihar. The region comprising Kishanganj, Purnea, Ara-ria and Katihar districts accounts for almost 60 per cent of the Muslim population. Thus far though, Muslims have shown no proclivity to return to Lalu Prasad’s fold. The BJP nominee won the bypoll for the Muslim-dominated Purnea seat after the firing at Forbesganj.
But today’s “maha-dharna” saw Lalu Prasad succeeding to some extent in checking dissension in his party with the dissenting MPs turning up. Raghuvansh Prasad, who was believed to have been harbouring bitterness, said: “It is time to step up the campaign against Nitish. He must hand over the Biada land case to the CBI. Besides, he should also hand over the police firing case to the CBI for the judicial commission will not be able to deliver justice.”
Other former MPs — Raghunath Jha and Kanti Singh — besides senior leaders Ramkripal Yadav and Ramchandra Purbey stood shoulder to shoulder with Lalu, “I am not demoralised. I am donning the battle gear against Nitish,” Lalu Prasad said.