Mayawati has desires, I too want to become PM: Lalu (Lead)

July 22nd, 2008 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Regaling a packed house with his trademark wit and humour, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, he too wanted to to become prime minister. “Every one has the desire to become PM (prime minister). Mayawatiji has the desire and I also have the desire. There is nothing wrong in it,” he said while speaking in the Lok Sabha, indirectly taking a dig at the Bahujan Samaj Party leader’s ambitions.

In the high-voltage political drama leading up to the trust vote, Mayawati has been the rallying point for the opposition parties including the smaller political formations who have vowed to bring down the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

After a series of disruptions in the Lok Sabha that witnessed fiery exchanges between the BSP MPs and the treasury benches and brief adjournments, Lalu Prasad’s colourful speech came like a whiff of fresh air and had many in splits.

“The rakshasas are always vanquished at gau bela. And today too, the enemy will be defeated at gau bela. But the voting should take place just at dusk, at 6 p.m., at gau bela,” Lalu said.

Gau, or cow, bela is the time the cows are herded back to their sheds after being allowed to graze in the fields the whole day.

This elicited laughter from his cabinet colleagues like Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, an important constituent of the ruling UPA, has 24 Lok Sabha MPS.

In a scathing attack on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, Lalu Prasad said: “These people are talking about Afzal Guru (convicted for attacking Indian parliament) but they are bigger terrorists.”

“Who is responsible for destroying Babri Masjid? Who set Gujarat on fire? Who set free (dreaded terrorist) Maulana Masood Azhar?” asked Lalu Prasad, raising his voice and pointing an accusing finger towards the opposition benches.

“They have to answer for this.”

Praising Prime Minister Singh and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi for the nuclear deal, Lalu Prasad said: “We want (this deal) to give electricity to the poor. We don’t have enough coal for electricity.”

He also targeted those opposing the deal, especially the Left, saying they wear “Made in America” watches and send their children to the US for studies while railing against the US.

Earlier, Lalu took a sharp dig at Advani, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, saying he “lacked the stature” of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Advani-ji is trying… but he lacks the stature of Vajpayee-ji,” said Lalu Prasad, who was in his elements and had the house in splits throughout his 35-minute speech during the debate on the trust motion.

Lalu Prasad also lampooned the Hindu groups for championing the Hindutva cause and building the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya by asking if they knew what being a “true Hindu” means. “A true Hindu has to go to Gaya (in Bihar) to perform the last rites of his parents, by offering pinda (ritual offering to the departed).”

“How many of you have done this duty?” he asked the opposition benches. Few BJP responded.

Another time, among the many mythological imageries he used to pepper his arguments, he referred to Monday as a day for worship of “Shankar Bhagwan” or Lord Shiva, the day when the trust motion was introduced, and Tuesday as the day for worship of Lord Hanuman, the monkey god revered by Hindus as a protector.

“Hum Hanuman-ji ka gada lekar unke peeth par marenge (we will take Lord Hanuman’s mace and hit the opposition on their backs)”, he said amid loud laughter.

The indomitable railway minister rarely gave the opposition a chance to interrupt his speech and had everyone listening raptly. When he finished his speech, the UPA members thumped loudly on their desks in approval.

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