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January 9, 1998


The Rediff Interview/Ram Vilas Paswan

'Without power, Laloo has gone mad'

Senior Janata Dal leader and Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan discusses his party's electoral prospects and his ongoing feud with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav in this interview with Tara Shankar Sahay.

Laloo Yadav has just told reporters that he could arrest you if you were to visit Bihar today.

If it is Laloo, he can say or do anything. Nobody should be surprised. Least of all, you people from the media.

You mean you are unconcerned…

(interrupts) Dekhiye, aap logon ko Laloo ke bebasi ko samajhana chahiye, wo satta mein nahin rahane ke karan paagal ho gaya hai (Look, you people ought to understand Laloo's helplessness, without power he has turned mad. When he started taking us and the party for granted, the Janata Dal leadership warned him, but when he crossed the Rubicon, he was expelled. Thereafter, he has been making all kind of statements which ought to be taken with a pinch of salt.

But why is he specifically targeting you?

Because I also belong to which he thinks is his bappauti (father's property). Laloo Yadav has forgotten it is because of people like me that he came to power. We stood firmly behind him, extended all kinds of support. But the chara ghotala (fodder scam) landed him in a soup and he has been making all kinds of accusations against us in the JD. But I have my own following in Bihar among the dalits. This is what is biting Laloo and he is making ridiculous statements.

According to media reports, the RJD and the BJP will be the main contenders for Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, with your party relegated to a distant third.

We are confident that the JD will have perform well in Bihar. As for the RJD, don't forget that Laloo Yadav and the chara ghotala is fresh in voters's minds. Besides, his ghamund (vanity) has earned him many foes within his own party and outside. He will suffer, you can bet on that.

Isn't it ironical that the squabbles between the JD and the RJD might swing the pendulum in Bihar in the BJP's favour?

The people of Bihar want economic betterment and development in the state, not another dose of communalism which the BJP represents.

Is it a fact that some JD leaders including yourself are out to victimise Prime Minister I K Gujral for his links with Laloo Yadav?

A United Front leader has made the matter clear. I don't want to comment.

If Mr Gujral is elected to the Lok Sabha will he again be put up as the United Front's prime ministerial candidate?

I cannot say. You better ask the UF leadership.

What is your grievance against Laloo Yadav?

That he should stick to clean politics and refrain from making himself an object of ridicule.

What do you think about Sonia Gandhi's entry into politics?

It might have generated some enthusiasm in the Congress, but that is about it. She will not get any decisive votes on the Congress party's behalf.

What is your opinion about Atal Bihari Vajpayee becoming prime minister?

Mr Vajpayee has already been prime minister for 13 long days. The BJP has been lucky, but now its luck has run out. It will be defeated in the poll.

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