Dictatorial atmosphere in country, institutions being destroyed: Lalu Prasad
Addressing the party’s open convention held in Delhi, the RDJ supremo said people were keen to oust the Modi government as they have been hit hard by price rise and unemployment
RJD president Lalu Prasad on Monday accused the BJP of "communalising" society and being against social justice and reservation for weaker sections.
He also claimed that CBI and ED actions against him were an outcome of his efforts to unite Opposition parties.
In an apparent reference to the BJP's big push to the Ram temple movement in the 1990s as the issue of quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) convulsed society, he alleged at the RJD's open convention held in the national capital that the ruling party has been against reservation since then.
“Later, it was forced to accept reservation for OBCs even though pro-quota leaders like him were accused of fuelling casteism," Lalu (74) said, invoking the 'mandal vs kamandal' barb against the BJP.
While 'mandal' stands B.P. Mandal, behind the report recommending reservation for OBCs, BJP's rivals have used 'kamandal' to accuse it of using religion to weaken their social justice planks.
Plagued by health issues, Lalu made a brief speech at the packed Talkatora stadium as delegates often cheered him.
Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted of corruption in fodder scam cases, had used the issue of reservation to corner the BJP in the 2015 assembly polls in Bihar when he and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had joined hands for the first time. He and his son Tejashwi Yadav are also facing the heat in some other corruption cases by Central agencies.
The RJD has termed the investigations as political vendetta due to its stiff opposition to the BJP.
However, the BJP is seen to have made major inroads among OBCs and Dalits since then, as highlighted by its strong show in the 2020 assembly polls.
In his address, Lalu Prasad said that an Emergency-like dictatorial atmosphere prevails in the country with institutions being "destroyed".
He also alleged that as his party has been trying to unite Opposition parties, the CBI and the ED are being used against him and other party leaders.
"Chhapa se humlog darne wale hain. Aapko chhap dengein hum log," (We can't be scared by these raids. We will wallop you),” he said in colloquial Hindi. The Modi government will be uprooted, he added.
People will not forgive those parties which do not join the unity efforts against the BJP, he said.
People want the Modi government's ouster as they have been hit hard by price rise and unemployment, the RJD president said, accusing it of making false promises.
Speaking on the occasion, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav asked Opposition parties to set aside personal egos to join hands in fighting the BJP and said they have to decide if they are with the ruling party or against it.
The party's open convention also saw his over the organisation getting further cemented as it passed a resolution effecting a change in the RJD constitution to vest final decision-making authority on its "name, poll symbol or any other issue" in him as well as his father. Lalu Prasad’s name was also ratified as the party’s president for the 12th consecutive term.
Tejashwi referred to ruling party MP Parvesh Verma's speech allegedly calling for a boycott of Muslims and said a huge number of Indians working abroad, many in Muslim countries, will be left unemployed if they face similar treatment.
"What kind of mindset is this? Somebody tell these BJP members that most of our oil comes from Muslim countries. Will you stop it?" he asked.
Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma courted controversy on Sunday after he allegedly called for a total boycott of a community at an event held in Delhi to protest the killing of a Hindu youth in northeast Delhi. He has claimed that he did not name any community.
Yadav continued with his efforts to shed its image of an organisation confined largely to a Muslim-Yadav base as he asked the packed crowd of delegates to "bend" if needed to embrace "small" castes, be it most backward communities or Dalits.
"Maintain discipline, this is my appeal to you. You have to protect the last person in the queue. There is a need to change behaviour. There can be no disharmony, jealousy or discrimination. We will take everyone along," he said.
"The RJD is a party of A to Z. It is a party of everyone," Yadav asserted
"People of so many communities were with us in the 1990s," he recalled, claiming that the RJD got wide support from across the society in the 2020 Bihar assembly polls.
Lalu Prasad as well as his political heir Tejashwi Yadav also asked party members to keep the larger goal in mind and not fall prey to any confusion or conspiracy.
Both Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav also met Shyam Rajak, a senior RJD functionary who had turned emotional on Sunday and later fell ill after being accused by Tej Pratap Yadav of abusing him.
Lashing out at the BJP, Tejashwi Yadav referred to it as "Badka Jhoota Party" (a big liar party), while Lalu Prasad, in his brief speech, slammed it as "Bharat Jalao Party" (burn India party).
The BJP is resorting to Hindu-Muslim issues to trigger conflict in society as part of its "divide and rule" strategy, Yadav alleged.
He accused the BJP of dividing the society on communal lines to divert people's attention from real issues like unemployment, price rise, education and health.
In a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said while the BJP leader was the first one in 75 years to rise from a tea shop to the highest executive office, in his eight years of his rule, those with engineering and MBA degrees were forced to work at tea shops as the economy has been "devastated".
When a dollar was equivalent to Rs 50 and Rs 60, Modi used to see a "conspiracy" behind it, but the Indian currency is now at a low of Rs 82 for a dollar and he has nothing to say today, the Bihar deputy chief minister said.
The country is being destroyed and the constitution of the RSS is being imposed, he added.
Calling for unity among non-BJP parties, he said all Opposition parties and leaders have to set aside their egos and personal interests to fight the ruling party.
He said that a united Opposition can oust the BJP from power at the Centre.
While the BJP has been working to topple Opposition parties-run governments in different states, Bihar has sent out a message by ejecting it out of power with JD(U) leader and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joining hands with Lalu Prasad, he said.
"It is our attempt to bring on one platform all parties which want to remove the BJP from power at the Centre. If this can be done in Bihar, it can be done nationally too," he said.
Asking Opposition parties to keep the larger goal of defeating the BJP in mind, he said it will be foolish for regional parties to fight among themselves.
“One has to think if their actions benefit or damage the BJP,” he said.
Echoing a Trinamool Congress slogan in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls, he said his party will fight and win against the BJP.
(With agency inputs)