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February 6, 1998


The Rediff Election Interview/Rajesh Ranjan 'Pappu' Yadav

'Laloo has gone mad'

Bihar is the land of the Buddha, Chandragupta Maurya, and Magadh glory. It is also the land of utter lawlessness, acute corruption and political opportunists who switch party afflictions at the drop of a hat. Figuring in the latter category is the Samajwadi Party's Rajesh Ranjan 'Pappu' Yadav, who was once the feared factotum of former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav. Today, he is the latter's sworn enemy.

In a brief interview with Tara Shankar Sahay, Yadav discusses the political scenario in Bihar and explains his reasons for parting ways with his former mentor. Excerpts from the conversation:

Laloo Yadav has recently issued statements that he is regaining his hold on Bihar and the election results will reflect this. Do you agree?

Laloo pagla gaya hai (Laloo has gone mad). He refuses to see the writing on the wall, he refuses to recognise the political ground realities. If he rose to power, it is because of people like myself. We worked hard round the clock so that the poor and deprived Biharis would get a fair deal. But that did not happen because Laloo sought to keep all the benefits for himself and take all the credit for our hard work.

But if you go to Bihar now, you will find people talking against Laloo. Mind you, these people are from the backward and deprived classes. Laloo betrayed the people's trust. Woh apaar swarthi aadmi hai (He is an extremely selfish man).

Do you think Laloo will win against Janata Dal president Sharad Yadav?

Bhagwan jaane (God knows). But there is a pronounced anti-Laloo wave now in Bihar now and it will be difficult for him. Thanks to his wife being the chief minister of Bihar, he has already begun misusing the state machinery to get an unfair advantage regarding the election at Madhepura.

What about your constituency, Purnea? People regard it ironical that leaders who were once united in the Janata Dal are today fighting each other from different parties.

People have their compulsions. My reasons for leaving the JD is quite clear. Laloo's behaviour was sickening, his selfishness knew no bounds. There are people in the JD who quietly stomach the indignities. I told Laloo I did not like what he was doing and I left the party. Laloo has dealt the most serious blow to the cause of social justice, thanks to his arrogance and greed.

What is your party's prospects in Bihar?

The Samajwadi Party is making its presence felt. And if Laloo continues with his brand of politics, our party is bound to come to the fore in Bihar sooner than later.

What do you think about the BJP's progress in your state?

The BJP is a communal party. Let me tell you, even if some people are attracted to it, they will soon feel disillusioned by its blatant communalism. It is harmful for the country's unity and integrity. In Bihar, people are used to co-existing peacefully and, therefore, communalism will be rejected

How do you explain Rabri Devi's becoming chief minister?

What is there to explain? The world saw how Laloo's writ runs in the JD. That's why I was disgusted and left the party and that is why even Sharad Yadav had to party ways with Laloo. Rabri is Laloo's rubber-stamp. She does not know even basic things and will not dare to take even a small step without Laloo's prior approval.

How many seats will your party get?

We will improve upon our previous performance.

The Rediff Election Interviews

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