Almost 24 years after stopping L.K.Advani’s Rath, LALU PRASAD is, in his own words, “in a battle,” the first objective of which is to halt BJP leader Narendra Modi’s juggernaut from sweeping through Bihar. Apparently happy with two rounds of voting in 13 constituencies, Mr. Prasad, after yet another hectic day of canvassing, talked to K. Balchand with eyes set on the remaining four phases of election covering 27 seats. He was all fire and brimstone, saying he had the upper hand and that it was his responsibility to prevent “communal” forces from breaking the country.
What are your chances in the Lok Sabha elections and that of the RJD-Congress-NCP alliance?
There is no contest. The TV channels are not showing the crowd which swamps the grounds to hear me. Narendra Modi seems to have exhausted himself. People hardly come to his meetings. It is tapering off. Those who go to Mr. Modi’s meeting do so only to see how a “ dangai (rioter)” looks like. Where are his votes? Media is “ baiman (not honest).” Because of the RJD, both the Congress and the NCP will win all their seats as well.
Who is your principal rival — Modi or Nitish Kumar?
There is no fight. It is one sided — this is clear. There is no comparison. You go to the constituencies you will know the people are with me. Sitting in air-conditioned rooms and based on rumours, the projections are put out. They do not know where the country is…where the votes are.
How were the first two rounds of polling?
The BJP thinks they have won both the seats in Patna (Patna Sahib from where BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha contested, and Pataliputra from where Mr. Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharati is in the fray). Their dreams are just like a balloon that will go up and burst. The media doesn’t know what is happening at the ground level. I’m the only person in the arena. Where is the question of anybody else holding any meeting when the people don’t come to listen to them? I don’t know what is happening in other states.
Do you think you have been able to revive your MY (Muslim-Yadav) combination?
It is just not Muslims and Yadavs who are voting for me. The Maha Dalits, extremely backward castes and the upper castes have also come out in favour of the RJD. There are progressive people among the upper castes as well — they are not fanatic (about Mr. Modi).
What are the issues in the elections and will it be the same in the next four rounds of polling?
The BJP is already frustrated. Giriraj Singh (Bihar BJP leader) and Nitin Gadkari (former BJP president) are using abusive language. One says those opposing Mr. Modi will have to go to Pakistan and the other says caste is in the DNA of people in Bihar. What ideology is this? They are fascists and communalists. They are saying these things intentionally and when caught, they retrace their statement. Is this the kind of agenda that Modi is following? They have gone mentally bankrupt.
Are you happy with your alliance with the Congress?
Alliance is the need of the hour to prevent split in secular votes. The tie-up is to save the country, its secular base. We have an open mind.
You stopped L.K.Advani’s Rath in 1990 and you say your next objective is to thwart Narendra Modi…
Bhaga Diya (drove him out). I gave a kick. He has gone back to where he had come from. Yes, he is finished. This is a secular country. The communal forces will not succeed. See what the corporate houses are doing. What do they want to do? The youth will be victims.
Who will be the next PM? Will you be the king maker? Will there be realignment of forces after the elections?
These issues are not on my agenda. I’m in a battle.