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Lalu’s Bihar tour on quota finds few takers
Patna, Mar 15 (IANS):
Published on 15 Mar. 2010 11:58 PM IST
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The stakes are high and so is the scepticism. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad has been touring Bihar to explain his strident opposition to the women’s reservation bill but is finding that convincing people may not be that easy with some even dismissing his campaign as a political gimmick. On Sunday, he visited his parliamentary constituency Chapra to detail his stance on the bill reserving 33 percent of all legislative seats for women. During a visit to rural Chapra, he said the bill would be passed only over his dead body. Not everybody was impressed. Patna homemaker Sangeeta Sinha said the former Bihar chief minister was emotionally blackmailing supporters. “It is typical Lalu-style of politics,” she remarked. Activist Kanchan Bala compared his view on the bill to his vehement opposition to Jharkhand being carved out of Bihar in 2000. “It is an old style of Lalu...there is nothing new in it. Before the bifurcation of Bihar also he had declared that Jharkhand would be created only over his dead body but Jharkhand was created,” said Kanchan Bala. Added Patna professional Shagufta Nahid: “Lalu Prasad is playing his old tricks to create sympathy by saying that women’s reservation bill would be passed in the Lok Sabha only over his dead body. It is part of the many political games before the assembly elections in Bihar due in November.” Lalu Prasad, along with Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav and Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, is demanding quotas for Muslims, Dalits and other backward castes within the reservation for women. The RJD supremo and his wife Rabri Devi visited several rural and urban areas of the state in the last couple of days to impress upon people, particularly Dalits, tribals and Muslims, that he was fighting for their cause. Sanjay Kumar, a government official, told IANS: “With the Bihar assembly polls few months away, Lalu is desperate to ensure consolidation of his backward castes, Dalits and Muslims votes to take on rival Nitish Kumar. But there are few takers for Lalu now.” Chandrasekhar Yadav, who belongs to Lalu Prasad’s caste and is considered loyal to him, also said that only a few would believe him. “Lalu allowed the creation of Jharkhand state despite thundering speeches against the bifurcation,” Yadav said. While there are many sceptics, the former chief minister still has a large number of loyal supporters who back his stance. “Lalu’s demand is right because only educated women will get place in parliament and the minorities and backward women will be left behind for another 50 years,” said Sharvan Rai, a tea-stall owner in Patna. Dhananjay Yadav, a trader, added: “We are loyal supporters of Lalu. Whatever stand he takes, we will support him. And the same with the women’s reservation bill.”

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