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December 29, 1997


The Rediff Interview/Laloo Prasad Yadav

'Gujral is a decent man being exploited by power-crazy UF men'

After his recent release from prison, Rashtriya Janata Dal president and former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav has regained much of his abrasive disposition.

Trying to come to grips with the changed political scenario, he has vowed to decimate his 'enemies' in the United Front. He has also been striving for electoral alliances.

In this exclusive interview to Tara Shankar Sahay, the fodder scam accused talks about the current political situation and how he intends to regain his political stature. Excerpts:

Is it true that you have abandoned your ambitions of being a national leader, confining yourself to Bihar where you have been trying to forge alliances with various regional parties?

(Punches his fist in air in defiance). Hah, where do you journalists get your ideas from? Laloo Yadav cannot be anything but a national figure!

I was away from the national scene for sometime, but I have returned now. My temporary absence from the political stage has seen some rapid developments. But, as you might have seen on television, the people want me back as I am the undisputed leader of the poor and the downtrodden in Bihar.

My party is gearing up for the changed scenario. After getting the people's verdict in Bihar, I will come back to the national scene. Laloo Yadav always matters in national politics.

With many Congressmen joining the BJP, do you think you made a mistake by striking an alliance with a weaker Congress?

No. (Congress president) Sitaram Kesri is a good friend of mine. However, what happens in his party is his business.

You had earlier desired to set up a front comprising the RJD, the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. But the SP is contesting 25 Parliamentary setas in Bihar and the BSP leadership is not exactly friendly towards you. Please comment.

I will not comment. If I do, it might be misunderstood. However, the RJD is aware of its strength.

Pappu Yadav (Rakesh Ranjan) who was earlier your close side, is now in the Samajwadi Party and has vowed to ruin your party in Bihar.

Small-time politicians are talking big.

But what would your party do if the SP contests 20-odd seats in Bihar?

It is premature to comment when consultations for alliances are still on.

Now that politicians from various parties are joining the BJP, it has ceased to be an 'untouchable'. You must be worried.

The BJP will never shed its communal character and upper-caste bias. This -- defection to the saffron party -- is a temporary phase as the BJP is bound to go back to its old ways, when the disenchantment will begin.

What do you think of the media predictions that the BJP is all set to bag more than 250 seats?

The media earlier predicted that the BJP would get even more seats. There is a difference between predictions and the reality.

What do you think of Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral?

He is a decent man being exploited by power-crazy men in the United Front.

Who are these UF leaders?

Some Janata Dal leaders including a former prime minister.

You are obviously referring to H D Deve Gowda, Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, isn't it?

Yes, I had warned Sharad against the deviousness of Deve Gowda and Ram Vilas. Ram Vilas will soon be exposed. I don't want to talk about Deve Gowda. He is a non-entity.

What if the UF leadership decides to put up Deve Gowda again as the prime minister?

Oh, highly unlikely. If Deve Gowda became the PM, it was a fluke. Besides, Inder Kumar Gujral is a far better candidate than that fellow.

As things stand today, what is Laloo Yadav's future?

He is a man of the people, fighting for their rights. So the people will return him to the pinnacle, whether in the state or the Centre.

Brothers-in-law land Laloo in trouble
Gujral caught in JD-RJD crossfire
RJD-BSP announce poll tie-up
Laloo vows to ruin JD

The Rediff Interview

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