The impression so far has been that Lalu Yadav acted on his own in arresting BJP's LK Advani when his Rath Yatra passed through Bihar in 1990. However, according to former Prime Minister VP Singh, it was he who telephoned Lalu asking him to arrest Advani and that, too, at night so that the government got time to deal with angry BJP-RSS-VHP cadres.
The "arrest-Advani" signal was given after talks with the BJP and the VHP, which confirmed that a solution to the Ayodhya issue had broken down. The rapid developments leading to the October 23 arrest saw the government issuing an ordinance (acquiring land around the disputed structure) and then withdrawing it, following objections from the RSS and the Babri Masjid Action Committee.
Singh then called a cabinet meeting to inform his colleagues that the talks had failed and his government was on its way out. After this, he rang up Lalu (who he had earlier advised not to stop the rath as the talks were on) to ask him to arrest Advani at night -- a directive Lalu followed and later encashed on.
There was no indication whether Mulayam, who wanted to perform this job, felt shortchanged. However, if today he is asked about Singh's plan to defeat him in the UP polls, he would probably state, this isn't the first time it would be happening.
The two votaries of social justice don't share a comfort level. Singh recalled in his recently-released book Manzil Se Zyada Safar (Travel Beyond Destination) that Mulayam always felt that he, as PM, had tried to destabilise the former's government in UP.
Singh was earlier puzzled when during the October 30 kar seva, Mulayam, suddenly made himself unavailable when a senior police official, followed by some karsevaks, entered the disputed area. The police remained inactive as VHP-Bajrang Dal workers climbed the Babri Masjid structure. "I didn't understand Mulayam's behaviour," Singh has said.
On his part, Mulayam never wanted to be in the Janata Dal when it was being set up in 1988. He agreed only after Singh assured him a free hand in UP.