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To woo Muslims to attend his Aug 27 rally, Lalu wows jailed don Shahabuddin

“I am grateful to Shahabuddin for not switching loyalties,” the RJD chief said, claiming that ex-MP from Siwan, currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail, had refused to leave the party despite being wwoed by CM Kumar.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2017 20:06 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
RJD chief Lalu,Siwan ex-MP,RJD Aug 27 rally
“I did have a talk with Shahabuddin (left) when he was in jail”, Lalu admitted in Siwan (Bihar), on Sunday. (PTI file photo)

Siwan ex-MP Mohammed Shahabuddin may be lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail but his importance for the RJD does not seem to have diminished.

On Sunday, RJD chief Lalu Prasad sang paeans to the Siwan strongman in his native place and even admitted his conversation with the former MP while in a Bihar jail, as featured in an audio tape aired by a TV news channel in May.

“Yes, I did have a talk with Shahabuddin when he was in jail. He had complained about the trouble brewing in Siwan during Ram Navami and how the SP was not discharging his duties properly,” he said.

Prasad also referred to the bad publicity he had faced after the tape was aired, for talking to a criminal. “But I am grateful to Shahabuddin for not switching loyalties,” he said, claiming that ex-MP had refused to leave RJD despite being asked to do so by CM Kumar once.

“Shahabuddin is following the law,” he said, referring to the former MP’s incarceration in Tihar jail.

Sources said Lalu’s praise for Shahabuddin was to show solidarity with the Siwan strongman, knowing well the latter’s considerable clout among muslims in the Siwan-Gopalganj-Saran region of north Bihar. It was also intended to drum up support for his upcoming rally against the BJP at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on August 27.

“The RJD chief is addressing the Muslim constituency more aggressively now, realizing how the BJP and JD (U) having joining hands to form a government may alter RJD’s poll prospects in the three districts, where polarisation on caste and religious lines is a deciding factor in poll victory”, said an RJD leader.

In the November 2005 and 2010 assembly polls, the NDA had won a big number of seats in this region, breaking RJD’s dominance in the three districts, as also in other north Bihar districts.

This is perhaps why Prasad, on Sunday, inducted into the RJD former minister Awadh Bihari Choudhary, who had left the RJD in 2012 and had lost the 2015 assembly polls as an independent candidate.

During his address, the RJD chief took potshots at CM Kumar for joining hands with BJP to form a new government by breaking ranks with the grand alliance, saying he had now become popular as “Paltu Ram”.

He also reiterated the demand for a CBI probe into the allegedly fraudulent transfer of funds from government accounts to account of an NGO, Srijan, in Bhagalpur.

“We will not allow the matter to be hushed up. The government is only arresting lower rung officials whereas big people are involved. Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi should be dismissed (for his alleged culpability in the scam),” he said.

Referring to the August 27 rally, Prasad said it would be attended by big anti-BJP leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and others.

Prasad also showed his usual wit when he invited all to come to the rally ‘‘WT”, clarifying the acronym “WT” should be understood as “with ticket’.

First Published: Aug 13, 2017 20:06 IST