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Lalu sounds warning bell

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad predicts an early fall for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar, report Anirban Guha Roy & Arun Kumar.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Guha Roy & Arun Kumar, Patna
UPDATED ON OCT 29, 2007 02:56 AM IST

RASHTRIYA JANATA Dal chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad predicted an early fall for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar.

Addressing a gathering at the RJD-sponsored ‘Chetawani Rally’ at Gandhi Maidan on Sunday, Lalu urged party supporters — Dalits, Muslims and weaker sections as well as the forward castes — to vote him back to power. Expressing his fondness for the ‘Sarvajan formula’, on the lines of UP Chief Minister Mayawati, he promised an amendment in the Constitution to provide 10 per cent reservation for the poor among upper castes. He also played the Muslim card liberally, citing the recent Godhra expose and making assurances of the implementation of the Sachar Committee report.

Lashing out at Nitish, however, was the keynote of Lalu’s speech. He highlighted the state government’s failure to “live up to the expectations of the people and its own promises”.

“The relevance of the ‘Chetawani Rally’ is to caution the NDA government of its failure on all fronts. It came to power ‘accidentally’,” he said.

Lalu said the massive turnout was a reflection of the brewing anger of the people. “If it (the government) doesn’t go, we will hold a ‘Bhagavan rally’ and chase them away,” he said to thunderous applause. Lalu also said he would take Bihar to the same heights as he had the Railways, if voted back to power.

The RJD chief hit out at the government for “sitting on the lap of the BJP and RSS, who are out to add a communal tinge to Bihar”. In a bid to woo the minorities, he said: “What I have been maintaining all along has been vindicated by the recent expose on the Godhra riots. The real face of Narendra Modi, the BJP and its affiliates has been exposed.”

Leader of Opposition Rabri Devi, on her part, dared the government to hold mid-term polls to test the RJD’s mass base. She also accused Nitish of patronising criminals and targeting RJD workers.

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