Calling Congress President Sonia Gandhi much "taller leader" than NDA's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani, Congress nominee and TV star Sekhar Suman, contesting from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat, has said that RJD chief Lalu Prasad is "non-secular".
"Soniaji is a couple of thousand feet taller than Advaniji. No parallel can be drawn in their statures," Suman, who is locked in a triangular fight with film-star Shatrughan Sinha and RJD'S Vijay Kumar Sahu to make his maiden entry into the Parliament, told PTI here yesterday.
"Sonia Gandhi having majority support could have become Prime Minister way back in 2004. But she sacrificed her candidature and decided to make Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister.
But Advani, despite his age, was harbouring ambitions for becoming Prime Minister and relentlessly canvassing for people's support, Suman said, adding the BJP leader's efforts reflected "selfishness of sorts".
Advani should have left a younger man in the race for the top job, he said
"While Sonia Gandhi has an image of representing people with secular credentials, Advani is leading a party which has a communal background," he said.
Asked why he considered Advani communal, Suman quickly responded saying it was not he but the people of the country who had judged that the saffron leader was heading a party having a commnal agenda.
"Sonia Gandhi is a respectable and honest representative of India's secular polity and she and Congress are favourites," the film-star turned politician said.
On Sonia's foreign origin issue, he said it is a well-settled issue in the country. "We are proud that she decided to live in India to serve its interests even after the assassination of her husband former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi," he said.
In reply to a question, Suman said Rahul Gandhi has started gaining political acumen and "I am sure he will be the leader of India in future."
On Congress projecting Manmohan Singh for a second term, he said "It supplements the points I raised about the Sonia-Rahul family, which is still ready to make sacrifices being disinterested in taking over the job.
Criticising RJD chief and Railway minister Lalu Prasad for his outbursts against Congress that it was responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid, Suman said "A person like Lalu Prasad who has never been secular doesn't have a right to speak on the issue."
"I claim that Lalu Prasad is casteist from the core of his heart. He cannot claim to be a leader with secularist platform," he said.
"It is unfortunate for Indian politics that a man who enjoyed power with Congress support in Bihar and at the Centre for a long period, is showing marked opportunism," he said commenting on Prasad's statement on the Babri demolition issue.
"A person the Congress appointed to be on the driver's seat has now been pushed into the rear of a vehicle," Suman said while refusing to press for seeking resignation of Lalu Prasad as Railway Minister saying "It speaks volumes on the latter's opportunist character."
To another question as to why he chose Congress for politics, Suman said "My choice has been influenced by the Congress leadership and the qualities it has shown to serve the people of India."
Asked about the preference of Bollywood stars for Congress or parties other than BJP, Suman said "First of all I will like tell you we are unncessarily being taken as Bollywood stars."
"We belong to a Hindustani film-making industry where all of us are secular and will try our best to bolster the country's secular fabric ... We represent all castes and sections of societies and we want that the secular image of the country is maintained," he said.
Asked whether he believed Shatrughan Sinha, pitted against him, was a representative of communal forces, Suman's cryptic comment was "I will only go by the people's decision about a person being secular or communal."
Suman said the he was in contest with a potential rival but at the same time he respected Sinha a lot for a long time.
"Losing or winning will be decided by the voters but I am in the fight here to serve the people of my home town as it is the only way to justify one's position in a life-time," he said.