Lalu Prasad, who had dared to halt L.K. Advani’s rath yatra at Samastipur in Bihar in 1990 and vowed to preserve communal harmony even at the cost of power, demanded on Wednesday a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), saying it was worse than the Popular Front of India (PFI) as an organisation.
“Sabse pehle RSS ko ban kariye. Ye usse bhi badtar sangathan hai. Aap TV par ek hi baaja bajate rehte hain, PFI ka. Hauwa dikha rahe hain logon ko (Ban the RSS first.
It is worse than it — the PFI — as an organisation. You just keep playing the PFI record on TV to create fear among the people),” Lalu Prasad said.
“All organisations like it (the PFI), including the RSS, should be banned so that there seems to be some uniformity. There should be no feeling that only Muslim institutions are being targeted,” Lalu told reporters.
The RJD chief was reacting to the ban on the PFI after filing his papers in Delhi for the post of party president.
Pointing out that the “RSS was banned during the Emergency”, Lalu asserted that all communal organisations needed to be banned and probed, and action should be taken if any evidence is found against them.
“The BJP wants to destroy the nation with its Hindu-Muslim politics. The country is breaking up. They are pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other in everything.”
Lalu added: “The country is suffering from poverty, unemployment and corruption, yet they want to communalise the environment and spark riots across the country to remain in power. But their time is over now.”
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal United (JDU) quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last month and joined the Opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar. Nitish and Lalu are now making efforts for a broad-based, pan-India unity of non-BJP parties. Both met Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week.
On the PFI ban, Congress chief spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said in a statement: “The Congress has always been and will continue to be against all forms and types of communalism — majority or minority makes no difference. The Congress’s policy has always been to uncompromisingly fight all ideologies and institutions that abuse religion to polarise our society, that misuse religion to spread prejudice, hate, bigotry and violence.”
The Indian Union Muslim League, the principal ally of the Congress in Kerala, was one of the first to react after news spread about the ban on the PFI. “It’s high time these two organisations (the PFI and the RSS) are put on a leash,” said M.K. Muneer, a League MLA and former minister.
The CPM said it opposed the extremist views of the PFI but did not support the way the government had tackled it by banning the outfit under the anti-terror law. It said bans on the RSS and Maoists had been ineffective in the past.
Bihar minority welfare minister and JDU leader Zama Khan told reporters: “The basic rule is that an investigation should be conducted first and any action should be taken only if anything wrong is found. Targeting any institution for the sake of elections and banning it is a direct example of bias.”
Several other Grand Alliance leaders in Bihar wondered why the ban came now and whether the intelligence agencies were sleeping through all these years while the PFI was expanding across the country.