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February 13, 1998


The Rediff Election Interview/Laloo Prasad Yadav

'Yeh garib dukhiare Laloo Yadav ko bhool nahi sakte, kyonki Laloo hi unka masiha hai. Baki sab bilkul bakwaas'

Laloo Prasad Yadav Yeh sab saale bekar hain (These people are useless). This message, screamed out by Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav at a minor party functionary, was because the latter delayed bringing him a glass of water.

More than the irritation, it reflects Laloo Yadav's nervousness over the approaching election. His detractors have emphasised that the RJD will not win more than a dozen parliamentary seats this time.

In this interview with Tara Shankar Sahay, however, there is no sign of any nervousness on his part. Laloo, as always, is at his bombastic best.

Available indications suggest that your party will have a hard time bagging even a dozen seats because under your rule there has been virtually no development in Bihar and also because your political opponents are rallying together to give you a determined fight.

(Shouting) Kaun saindication ki baat kar rahe ho? Tum dilliwale reporting kar rahe ho ya mazak? (What indication are you talking about? You Delhiwallahs have come to report here or joke?). Go, visit the constituencies and you will find there is a wave for my party, all because of me. Yeh garib dukhiare Laloo Yadav ko bhool nahi sakte, kyonki Laloo hi unka masiha hai. Baki sab bilkul bakwaas (the poor and oppressed people can never forget Laloo Yadav because only I am their messiah and the rest are useless).

Is this your only claim?

You are obviously ignorant. I told Kesriji at the airport some time back that there is a wave in the RJD's favour. He agreed. He said according to his information, my party would get the majority of seats. Ab aapko humare taakat ka andaz lag gaya hoga (Now you must have got a taste of my party's strength).

But what about the lack of development in Bihar under your rule?

Right from the time I took over as chief minister, I have endeavoured for the benefit of the poor and oppressed. That is why I initiated charwaha schools (school for shepherds) so that the children of poor people could progress in life. I have taken the initiative for the housing and welfare benefits of the poor. After all, these people are my strength.

I have also not allowed congestion in some parts of Patna by clearing away unauthorised structures for shops and business establishments. They have been given alternate arrangements.

But much of my tasks remain unfinished because of my absence (Laloo was in jail after being charge-sheeted in the Rs 9.5 million fodder scam). But now the chief minister (Laloo's wife Rabri Devi) is continuing the good work.

Talking about the chief minister, what is this thing about the Congress withdrawing support to the RJD government?

For your information, it is all a stupid rumour. I asked Kesriji about it and he assured me that there was no much thing.Lekin kya yeh acchambhe ki baat nahin hai ki presswale isko turant vishwas le liya? (But isn't it surprising that the press quickly lapped up this canard?)

But this talk of the Congress withdrawing support to the Rabri Devi government was started by state Congress chief Sarfraz Ahmad. So what have you to say?

Sarfraz ho ya aap ho, ab to aap logon ko pata chal gaya hoga ki sab bilkul bakwas hai (whether it is Sarfraz Ahmed or yourself, now all of you know that all this is utter nonsense).

Can you comment on the abundant use of illicit firearms in the election in Bihar? Especially by your party.

Yeh to bacchewali baat ho gayee (this is childish talk). Everybody knows that in Bihar, like everywhere else in the country, firearms are used in elections. So why are you singling out my party? Why are you closing your eyes to the hired private army of the rich landlords who not only use firearms to terrorise the poor, oppressed people during elections but throughout the year?

Then there is the BJP and its allies, who prop up the rich and support them, by giving money and a plethora of firearms. I have said earlier and I am reiterating it now that my party workers will not sit quietly with bangles on their hands when the poor and the oppressed are terrorised by the rich. Eent ka jawab pathhar se diya jayega (we will give a fitting reply if violence is used).

It is being said that after the formation of the RJD and after you ceased to be chief minister, you are no more the kingmaker that you used to be when you were in the United Front and the JD.

(Laughs) Yeh to election ke baad pata chalega (This will be known after the election).

Are Muslims going away from your social justice plank because you have not lived up to your promises made to them?

Musalman aaj bhi hamare saath hai aur rahega (The Muslims are with my party and will remain so). Whoever says the Muslims are leaving Laloo Yadav is obviously influenced by people like Sharad (JD president Sharad Yadav) and Ram Vilas (Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan).

How many seats will your party get?

Itna sara ki aap dung rah jaoge (Enough to surprise all of you).

The Election Interviews