Begusarai/Patna: With RJD supremo Lalu Prasad seizing upon RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's call for a quota review to consolidate his voters, BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday accused him of speaking a "blatant lie" and insisted his party always supported the reservation policy and wanted no change.
Addressing BJP workers in Begusarai, Shah asked them to effectively counter Lalu's use of the 'Mandal' card by reaching out to every house to highlight the party's commitment to reservation and said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the RJD leader wanted to change the poll-time discourse from one on development to quotas.
"Nitish and Lalu are very shrewd politicians. They know their defeat and BJP's victory is certain if election is fought on the agenda of development. Lalu has come up with a new gimmick that if a BJP government is formed, it will remove reservation.
"I want to say that he is telling a blatant lie. BJP is committed to reservation and wants no change in it. Our workers should go to every house and tell people so. Lalu and Nitish want to misguide people and lead them away from the real issues. BJP is committed to the empowerment of the dalits and backwards," Shah said.
Both Nitish and Lalu had been quick to latch on to Bhagwat's recent call for a review of the reservation policy to raise an alarm about the possibility of scrapping of quotas for backward classes and dalits in government jobs and admission to educational institutions.
After Bhagwat's remarks in an interview to RSS organs 'Panchjanya' and 'Organiser' triggered a political storm, BJP and the Modi government publicly distanced themselves from his comments.
Even today, unfazed by an FIR against him for his alleged casteist remarks, Lalu said he is ready to be "hanged" but will not allow BJP and RSS to scrap quotas for the backwards and dalits, making it clear that Mandal politics will top his agenda for the Bihar polls.
"I am prepared to be hanged, but will not allow BJP and RSS to succeed in scrapping reservations," Prasad, long considered a Messiah of the backward castes in the state, said in Patna.
Reservation continues to be a sensitive issue in the state to which B P Mandal, the author of the Mandal Commission Report, belonged.
Sharp polarisation along caste lines had helped Lalu and his party stay in power for an uninterrupted 15-year stint.
The BJP chief also gave a war cry to his workers, saying all "pseudo-secular" elements had come together to fight them and asking them to work unitedly for the party's victory as the Bihar assembly polls will set the direction of national politics.