PATNA: Lalu Prasad Yadav managed to keep the BJP away from power in Bihar just a year after a Modi wave swept the general elections in 2014 by forging a successful alliance between his RJD and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), but he was shocked by a resurgence of the BJP tsunami in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh today. Nonplussed, perhaps, the RJD chief Saturday demanded that electronic voting machines (EVMs) used for polling in that state be examined by the Election Commission of India (ECI), suggesting, like the routed BSP’s party chief Mayawati, that they may have been rigged.
After avoiding the media for several hours when reports of BJP’s sweeping victory in neighbouring UP poured in, Lalu emerged in the evening and spoke to journalists. Echoing Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Lalu said there seemed to be a possibility that the EVMs had been manipulated to help the BJP.
Despite his disbelief, Lalu uttered the regular gracious words about accepting the people’s mandate but placed a part of the blame for the SP-Congress alliance’s loss on the feud in SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family.
“Mayawatijee’s statements have come on the EVMs. The EVMs need to be examined. They are made in Gujarat and were supplied from there,” he said, hinting that they may have been tampered with in the BJP ruled state. “We had earlier raised this issue and approached Election Commission of India,” he continued.
“The Election Commission had assured us that mock polls would be conducted before the real polls. We don’t know if mock polls were conducted in the presence of representatives of all political parties before deploying those EVMs in polling booths. I think the EVMs were not examined and I demand that this issue be probed by Election Commission of India,” he said.
Not merely accusing the BJP of possibly rigging the voting machines, Lalu also charged the BJP with taking advantage of social divisions in UP although Akhilesh government had done “tremendous” development work in the state over the past five years. “These fascist people (BJP) communalised society. In the campaigns, they hardly talked of their performance at the Centre in the past two-and-a-half years. There is now fear that they would harm social justice by ending reservation,” said Lalu.
“I had campaigned only in the last phase of the UP polls. The mandate has been the opposite of what I had seen. I welcome the mandate. Akhilesh is right in saying that the people were lured by BJP. We failed in countering their lure,” added Lalu.
He said the clash in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family “played a role” though it was patched up later. “But still such a mandate was not expected at all,” Lalu said, unable to contain his disbelief.