The Telegraph
Sunday , March 9 , 2014
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Nitish? Never, says Lalu

Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad

Patna, March 8: Former chief minister and RJD boss Lalu Prasad has said he is prepared to make “any sacrifice” in what he called the “fight to finish” against communal forces but not shake hands with successor chief minister Nitish Kumar.

“Nitish took the help of communal and fascist forces only in order to remove me from power, he was sitting in their lap till the other day, how can I resume partnership with him? That is impossible,” Lalu Prasad said in the course of a televised invited-audience interaction this evening.

Lalu Prasad parried repeated questions on his choice for the next Prime Minister, insisting that the election was not about who becomes Prime Minister but about the “survival” of India.

“We are faced with a 1947-like situation where the nation is threatened with division. Communal and fascist forces are posing a huge challenge to the very survival of India as a nation and as an idea, I am in the battle to defeat these forces, not to make this person or that person the Prime Minister. And I am declaring today that we will not let communal and fascist forces take over this country, they will be defeated.”

The event was organised by Newslaundry in collaboration with Facebook and NDTV.

Lalu Prasad had arrived straight from the campaign trail in an election that is critical to his survival. It has not helped that he is having to battle to keep his flock gathered behind him.

Following the desertion of four MLAs last fortnight, Lalu Prasad suffered an overnight jolt, failing to woo back long-time right hand man Ram Kripal Yadav, who has taken angered exception to Misa Bharti, Lalu’s eldest daughter, being given the Lok Sabha ticket to contest the Pataliputra seat.

Misa publicly offered to surrender the Pataliputra ticket in Ram Kripal’s favour yesterday but Lalu Prasad refused to revise his decision on Misa.

Asked if he was not encouraging dynasty politics at the expense of his partymen, Lalu Prasad retorted: “Why am I alone being targeted for this? Look around and see what is happening in other parties. I do not wish to take names but let me tell you there is no harm if a doctor’s child becomes a doctor. Misa and Tejaswi (Lalu Prasad’s son and appointed heir) are both very promising politicians, let anybody try to compete with them.”

He declined to get into any discussion over the consequences of senior leaders like Ram Kripal Yadav leaving the party. “At a personal level, Ram Kripal remains a family man, at the political level, let me tell you there is no force combating communal and fascist forces as strongly as Lalu, I have suffered no damage.”

Lalu Prasad also made light of Nitish Kumar’s recent claim for the Prime Minister’s job and his campaign against Narendra Modi.

“Nitish Kumar will be a zero in Bihar, take it from me,” he said. “He was with communal forces all this time. The difference between me and Nitish is that I stopped L.K. Advani’s rath and he flagged off his yatra, how can such a man have any credibility?”

Lalu Prasad would not get into any debate over his own conviction, save to say that he will “get justice from higher courts”, but said communalism was a much bigger issue than corruption.

“Communal forces have the support of big corporate houses and 90 per cent of the media, and they threaten to break this country. My battle is to defeat them and to save this country. Corruption is an issue but not a primary one, the fundamental battle is to save Mahatma Gandhi’s India.”