Lalu does tight-rope walking on Ram Sethu, n-deal


New Delhi : Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad did some remarkable tight-rope walking Saturday on the controversy over the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) affidavit on the historical evidence on Lord Ram and Ram Sethu.

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While supporting the government decision to withdraw the controversial ASI affidavit, Lalu Prasad also seemed interested in not annoying the DMK, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partner in the government, which is very keen on completing the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project off the Tamil Nadu coast.

Talking to newspersons after a daylong meeting of his party’s national executive here, the RJD chief said: “Thanks to Sonia Gandhi (Congress president) and the people in the government, I and my party are happy that the controversial reference to Ram has been withdrawn. We have faith in Ram, Rahim, Krishna, Prophet Mohammad and Jesus Christ, all.”

However, when asked if the dredging work on the Sethusamdram project in the Palk Strait should be stopped, he said: “If they prove in the Supreme Court that it is actually the Ram Sethu, then it (Adam’s Bridge) should not be touchéd. Then we will all go and pay our respects.”

The canal project would damage Adam’s Bridge, which Hindus believe to be the Ram Sethu mentioned in the epic Ramayana.

Asked if those responsible for hurting Hindu sentiments deserved to be punished, a very agitated Lalu Prasad retorted: “Those who demolished Babri Masjid, they should be punished.”

He added, “We may consider our Ayodhya is here. But for the people of Thailand, Ayodhya is somewhere else.” Before 1767, for 40 years the capital of Thailand was Ayutthaya (Ayodhya) till it was moved to Bangkok.

Lalu Prasad also successfully walked the rope on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

While endorsing the government stand on the deal, he denied a newsperson’s suggestion of differences between him and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat over the 123 agreement. He said, “He never expressed any displeasure with me.”

The RJD chief also decided to set up a five-member panel “to study and explain to the people the implications of the 123 Indo-US nuclear agreement”.

He announced a “chetavni (warning) rally” in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on Sep 28.Referring to recurring incidents of violence against the poor and depressed sections in Bihar, and the recent incidents of mob lynching and torture, Lalu Prasad using Bhojpuri dialect expressions said: “The real jungle raj is there in Bihar now. This is ‘Nak phodwa, kan katwa raj, (a rule in which they cut off people’s noses and chop off their ears)”.

“Men are dragged on the streets by policemen behind their motorcycles, people’s eyes are being gouged out. And when I protested and spoke against it, they burnt my effigy. Thanks to their antics, women are giving birth to children on the road.”

Saturday was the first meeting of the newly-constituted national executive of the RJD after it re-elected Lalu Prasad as party president at Sarnath last month.

Lalu Prasad offered reservations for the most backward community among Muslims, as also for Dalit Muslims, Christians and Buddhists, without anyway touching the quota of “my Dalit brothers”.

He was accompanied on the dais by his wife and Leader of Opposition in Bihar assembly Rabri Devi, and prominent RJD leaders Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Rami Ram, and Jaiprakash Narain Yadav.