BJP MLA Lalan Kumar Paswan, whom incarcerated RJD president Lalu Prasad had allegedly telephoned from Ranchi, told the Bihar Assembly on Friday that he feared "physical and mental harm" after having exposed the "powerful" leader. Paswan, who represents Pirpainti constituency, made the claim in a cleverly-timed interjection, while leader of the opposition Tejaswhi Yadav, the RJD supremo's younger son and heir apparent, was taking part in the debate on governor's address to the newly constituted Assembly.
Rising from his seat, Paswan, who lodged a complaint against Prasad with the state vigilance department on the previous day, told the chair, "I have made a disclosure about a telephonic call by the national president of a political party. I fear physical and mental harm, to myself and my family, from the powerful people involved in the enticement offered to me". Prasad, who is serving sentence in Ranchi for his involvement in fodder scam cases, had made the purported call on Tuesday, when he had asked Paswan to remain "absent" during the election of the speaker scheduled the day after.
In the audio clip of the conversation that has gone viral on the social media, Paswan can be heard expressing his inability to do so, pointing out that he was bound by the party discipline. "We will take care of you……we will be having our own Speaker. This government will fall and you will be made a minister thereafter," the former chief minister can be heard as saying.
Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who had flagged the alleged telephone call on his Twitter handle on Tuesday night, also shared on social media the contents of the FIR lodged against Prasad. After making his statement in the House, Paswan said, in a deft play of the Dalit card, "as a member of this House, I seek protection. I feel insecure in the midst of such a vitiated political atmosphere. There is still a perception that those from weaker sections are always up for sale.
The proceedings were drowned in pandemonium for a few minutes thereafter as minister Shravan Kumar rose and said "it is indeed a serious matter. The House must ensure safety and security of its members". Yadav, who had been flaying the government over its alleged mishandling of the COVID pandemic, quipped testily "the ruling dispensation is obviously angry with me. The anger is predictably being directed at our national president".
Earlier, Yadav's repeated averment that the government was formed through the 'chor darwaza' (back door) — an allusion to alleged manipulations by pliant officials in closely-fought constituencies during the recent assembly polls — was strongly criticized by parliamentary affairs minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary. "The government has been formed by a coalition which won majority in a legitimate electoral exercise. In this backdrop, the expression 'chor darwaz' shall be deemed unparliamentary," Chaudhary said.
The RJD has been hurling the back door barb since 2017, when Nitish Kumar made an abrupt exit from the Grand Alliance and formed a government with the BJP within 24 hours of his resignation. Chaudhary, a senior leader of the JD(U), also expressed disapproval of references to the chief minister having been named in a murder case dating back to 1991 and some other "unsubstantiated allegations" and requested that these be deleted from the records of the proceedings.