| Laloo: Hitting back
New Delhi, April 29: Laloo Prasad Yadav has challenged BJP Vadodara MP Jayaben Thakkar to swear, with tulsi leaves and tama (a copper container) in hand and feet in the Ganga, whether there was a murderous assault on his life by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists when he visited Gujarat after a recent rail accident.
'Jayaben Thakkar was with me for every inch I travelled that day. She is a pious lady and has been a member of Parliament three or four times. I know her from before. My plea to Jayaben is please take some tulsi leaves and a tama in your hands, stand in the Ganga and tell people what exactly happened that day (April 21),' the railway minister told The Telegraph today.
'But unfortunately, nobody sticks to their statements because we are living in kalyug (amoral times),' he added.
A couple of days after the tragedy, Thakkar went on record to say that the rear window of the car in which she was travelling with Laloo Prasad was broken by crowds that had congregated outside the hospital where the injured were admitted and that shards of glass fell on her. A day later, the BJP circulated a statement signed by her, in which she denied it.
Since the accident, Thakkar has not been seen in Parliament and her phones in Delhi and Vadodara went unanswered.
Laloo Prasad expressed surprise at former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's demand that references to the RSS, VHP and the Bajrang Dal in his statement in Parliament be expunged.
'We thought Vajpayee takes a stand different from his party's now and then. This time, when he demanded that the names of these organisations should be deleted, perhaps, he wanted to send a message to the RSS,' he said.
'After the House was adjourned that day, I went up to him and said you are a senior person and you refuse to believe me. There was a murderous assault on me. If I had died, like the others, you too would have placed flowers over my body and offered your prayers. He remonstrated, saying: 'Why are you saying such inauspicious things' 'My party,' he said, 'produces me on such occasions and after I finish speaking, I feel they have laid a trap for me.' To this I said, then you please find out independently what happened that day.'
Laloo Prasad said when he reached the site of the accident, 20 km away from the hospital, he saw hordes of young men wearing saffron bandannas, standing atop the mangled coaches of the ill-fated train.
Later, when he visited the hospital, the minister said the scene was the same. 'The cops were mingling with the activists.... As I was leaving through the portico, I saw there were 10 or 15 people on the roof with what looked like a huge slab of ice, the kind used to freeze bodies.... If they threw it on me, my brain would have haemorrhaged... When the polythene was thrown, it burst but instead of the ice, I was doused in ice-cold water. I got into the car with Jayaben and prodded the driver to go fast. But still they managed to smash the rear window,' Laloo Prasad said.