PATNA: Unfazed by an FIR against him for his alleged casteist remarks, RJD chief Lalu Prasad today said he is ready to be "hanged" but will not allow BJP and RSS to scrap quotas for the backwards and dalits, making it clear that Mandal politics will top his agenda for the Bihar polls.
"I am prepared to be hanged, but will not allow BJP and RSS to succeed in scrapping reservations," Prasad said. The RJD boss, for long considered a messiah of the backward classes, described the electoral contest in the Hindi heartland state as one between "Jungle Raj 2" and "Mandal Raj 2".
"BJP has given the slogan of Jungle Raj-2 against which I am saying Mandal Raj-2... what is the crime in saying this?" Prasad told reporters, a day after an FIR was registered against him for his alleged casteist comments. Addressing a rally to launch his son Tejaswi Yadav's campaign in Raghopur from where he is making his electoral debut, Lalu had on Sunday described the assembly elections as a direct fight between "the backward castes and forward castes" and given a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat BJP-led NDA.
The Election Commission had found the remarks violative of the model code of conduct for elections and ordered registration of an FIR against him. Several top BJP leaders including its president Amit Shah have while stumping warned people against return of "Jungle Raj" if the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance is voted to power. The opposition had coined the 'jungle raj' phrase to describe alleged lawlessness during the 15-year RJD rule from 1990 to 2005.
Lalu and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had quickly latched on to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's recent call for a review of quotas and claimed that the Modi government wanted to scrap reservations, a sensitive issue in the state to which B P Mandal, the author of the Mandal Commission Report, belonged.
Sharp polarisation along caste lines had helped Lalu and his party stay in power for an uninterrupted 15-year stint. Lalu, while making it clear that "Mandal politics" would continue to be his major poll plank, later told an an election rally at Lakhisarai that he had asked Nitish Kumar to take action against one of his MLAs Anant Kumar Singh in connection with the recent murder of a "child of the Yadav caste".
Singh, an upper caste Bhumihar leader, is under arrest in as case of abduction and murder of a yadav youth, and is contesting from Mokama this time as an independent. Lalu also took a dig at the BJP-led alliance for not declaring its chief ministerial candidate, saying "Nitish Kumar is the bridegroom of the grand secular alliance, but who is the bridegroom of Modi's barati?"
Lalu said since the BJP central leadership considered party leaders in Bihar as "bewakoof" (fools), it sent leaders from outside to stump for NDA candidates. Prasad also mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his 56-inch chest comment, asking "What has happened his 56-inch chest when Pakistan is regularly shelling Indian borders? This Prime Minister as 'darpok' (coward)."