We are firmly committed to the welfare of minorities: Lalu and Paswan

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's ‘saffron terror' warning was eagerly taken up by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) - Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) alliance here on Saturday in a bid to display their solidarity with Muslim minorities.

Addressing journalists at their respective party offices, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his LJP counterpart, Ram Vilas Paswan, came down heavily on Hindu terror groups and rebuked the Congress for being soft on ‘saffron terrorism.'

In wake of the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls, the duo's remarks assume significance, as it is being viewed as an attempt to reassure their Muslim base after the projection of Mr. Prasad as the Chief Minister and Mr. Paswan's brother, Pashupati Kumar Paras, as Deputy Chief Minister, in the event of an election victory.

Mr. Paswan said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its constituent arms — the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal — ought to be banned for indulging in a string of terrorist activities throughout the country.

He said that despite the attack by Sangh members on the offices of the television channel Headlines Today, there had never been any police raid till date on any branch of the RSS.

Mr. Prasad and Mr. Paswan demanded the revelation of the CD contents acquired by the television channel, which allegedly contains details of a plot to assassinate Vice-President Hamid Ansari by a member affiliated to the Sangh.

The duo also questioned why Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had been given a clean chit by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Sohrabbudin Sheikh–Kausar Bi murder case.

Stating that he condemned both Hindu and Muslim communal forces, Mr. Paswan said that “innocent Muslim boys were languishing in jails, while Hindu terror outfits were on the rampage.”

The alliance has not accorded any prominent position to a minority, despite Mr. Paswan's promises to instal a Muslim as a Chief Minister during the 2005 November Assembly polls.

“The decision to project Pashupati Paras as Deputy Chief Minister was a consensual decision. We will give maximum weightage to minorities while considering nominations,” he said, adding that he was in talks with all major Muslim leaders.

Welfare of minorities

Refuting allegations of indulging in dynastic politics by favouring their kin, Mr. Paswan and Mr. Prasad said they were firmly committed to the “welfare of minorities” and that the Ranganath Mishra Commission's recommendations would be implemented once the RJD-LJP alliance came to power.

Stating that the RJD was attentive towards every caste and section of society, Mr. Prasad went so far as to announce a 10 per cent reservation for the education of impoverished upper-caste children.

Mr. Prasad defended his visit to the jailed ex-Member of Parliament, Shahabuddin.