New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Rath Yatra was stopped and its leader Lal Krishna Advani arrested in Bihar in October 1990 though then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had advised against it, said Lalu Prasad, who was the Chief Minister of the state then.
In his autobiography titled “Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey”, which was made available from Sunday, he has said Hindu religious figures impressed upon him that the yatra should not be blocked.
“To be honest, nobody had asked me to stop the procession or arrest Advani. The Prime Minister had said nothing. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who was then the Union Minister for Home Affairs, called me to Delhi and enquired if I planned to detain Advani,” he has written.
“Sayeed told me ‘why are you taking upon yourself (to block the procession)? Let the yatra go on,” he added.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief, who was then in the Janata Dal, however, said he retorted by saying: “Aap sab ko satta ka nasha chad gaya hai” (all of you are intoxicated by power).”
Then Prime Minister V.P. Singh had called for a meeting of various Hindu religious figures, and these people impressed upon him that the yatra should not be blocked, Lalu Prasad said, adding that no solution could be arrived at even after several discussions.
He said it was clear in his mind that Advani’s yatra was a direct threat to the minority community and communal harmony, and the secular character of the nation had to be protected at all costs.
Lalu Prasad said the initial plan was to arrest Advani in Sasaram on September 9, 1990 but it was leaked to him and he altered his route. He was then arrested from Samstipur the next day.
As consequences of his “bold decision”, the two-time Chief Minister of Bihar said, some communal elements, who had been opposing the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, found in Advani’s arrest a pretext to vent their anger.
While he dealt with them with an iron hand, Sayeed pleaded with him to allow Advani’s release in the interest of the continuation of the National Front government, he said.
“I told him he was drunk on power, and banged the receiver down,” he added.
The RJD supremo claimed that he had put meticulous planning to get Advani arrested because of his hunch that the BJP leader was leading a frenzied mob of volunteers to demolish Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh.
“I felt that by arresting him I had haled the demolition of the Babri mosque, which could well have happened in 1990 itself. I was at peace with myself over the realisation that I had done the right thing,” Lalu Prasad said.