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‘Won’t Spare You’: When Lalu Got Advani Arrested in 1990 for Taking Out Rath Yatra in Bihar

‘Won’t Spare You’: When Lalu Got Advani Arrested in 1990 for Taking Out Rath Yatra in Bihar

BJP leader LK Advani's Rath Yatra was posing a serious threat to communal harmony, writes Lalu Yadav in his yet-to-be-released autobiography.

New Delhi: In 1990, former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had threatened senior BJP leader LK Advani of dire consequences if the latter took out the Ram Rath Yatra. Yadav has made the revelation in his yet-to-be-released autobiography, ‘Gopalganj to Raisina-My Political Journey’.

Advani’s plan, writes Yadav, was "pregnant with the grave possibility of driving Bihar back to 1989” and he went to Delhi to confront the senior leader. Bihar had seen the Bhagalpur riots in 1989 -- triggered by RSS-BJP’s Ramsheel Puja -- in which, the RJD supremo says, 250 villages in and around the silk city were demolished with victims being mostly Muslim weavers.

After reaching New Delhi, he told Advani, “Aap danga phailane wala yatra rok dijiye. Bahut parishram se humne Bihar mein bhaichara kayam kiya hai. Agar aap danga yatra nikaliyega, toh hum chhodengein nahi!” (You must drop the Yatra plan, which is aimed at fuelling riots. I have managed to restore brotherhood in Bihar after a great deal of efforts. If you don’t stop the communal march, I won’t spare you).

Advani, whom Yadav refers to as sober and soft-spoken, became infuriated. “Dekhta hoon kaun mai ka doodh piya hai jo mera rath rokega’ (Let’s see which person who has had his mother’s milk can stop my chariot),” Advani allegedly told Yadav, to which he shot back, “Mainey ma aur bhains dono ka doodh piya hai…aaiye Bihar mein batata hoon’ (I have had the milk of my mother as well as of a buffalo…come to Bihar to see what I can do).”

He also recalls that the then union minister for home affairs, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had asked him to let the procession go on. But Yadav’s response was: “Aap sab ko satta ka nasha chad gaya hai (you all are intoxicated by power).”

He further says that nobody had asked him to arrest Advani but he decided to go ahead with it on his own. The plan, he adds, was to arrest the BJP minister in Sasaram, but Advani got the whiff of it and altered his route. The next attempt was made in Dhanbad but that also failed, writes Yadav. He finally decided to have Advani arrested in Samastipur.

Yadav summoned IAS officer RK Singh (now BJP MP from Arrah and minister of state (IC), power and new and renewable energy) and DIG-rank IPS officer Rameshwar Oraon to his residence. m. He then called the state chief secretary, home secretary and other officers concerned, and asked them to remain at his residence without a phone connection. “I was in no mood to have the plan leaked yet again,” he writes. A government pilot was then asked to take the state helicopter to Samastipur and the early morning arrest was to ensure that people remained unaware till much after Advani was taken away from that place.

Soon after his arrest, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called Yadav and requested him to let Advani go so that the National Front government could continue but got snubbed by the RJD leader.

Two days after the arrest, Yadav called up Advani and said, “I have got you arrested. But the guest house is set amid sylvan surroundings, with green trees and hills all around. You will enjoy walking around the guest house. Take care of your health and call me if you need anything.” He later got his daughter Pratibha to meet him at the guest house and as per Advani’s request, the latter was also allowed to speak to his wife, Kamla Advani, on a daily basis.

Advani’s arrest, the book says, went a long way in inculcating confidence among the minority communities.

(The book is written by Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nalin Verma and published by Rupa Publications India)

first published:April 07, 2019, 11:03 IST