RJD president Lalu Prasad on Monday sought to reignite the "mandal vs kamandal" debate as he accused the BJP of "communalising" society and being against social justice and reservation for weaker sections.
He also claimed that CBI and ED actions against him were an outcome of his efforts to unite opposition parties.
In an apparent reference to the BJP's big push to the Ram temple movement in the 90s as the issue of quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) convulsed society, he alleged at the RJD's open convention here that the ruling party has been against reservation since then.
Later, it was forced to accept reservation for OBCs even though pro-quota leaders like him were accused of fuelling casteism, 74-year-old Prasad said, invoking the "mandal vs kamandal" barb against the BJP.
While 'mandal' stands for the man, B P Mandal, behind the report recommending reservation for OBCs, BJP's rivals have used 'kamandal' to accuse it of using religion to weaken their social justice planks.
Plagued by health issues, Prasad made a brief speech at the packed Talkatora stadium as delegates often cheered him. He will soon be going to Singapore for treatment.
Prasad, who has been convicted of corruption in fodder scam cases, had used the issue of reservation to corner the BJP in the 2015 assembly polls in Bihar when he and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had joined hands for the first time. He and his son Tejashwi Yadav also face probe in some other corruption cases.
The RJD has termed the investigations as political vendetta due to its stiff opposition to the BJP.
However, the BJP is seen to have made major inroads among OBCs and Dalits since then, as highlighted by its strong show in the 2020 assembly polls.
In his address, Prasad alleged that an Emergency-like dictatorial atmosphere prevails in the country with institutions being "destroyed".
He also alleged that as his party has been trying to unite opposition parties, the CBI and the ED are beng used against him and other party leaders.
"Chhapa se humlog darne wale hain. Aapko chhap denegin humlog," (We can't be scared by these raids. We will wallop you), he said in colloquial Hindi. The Modi government will be uprooted, Prasad claimed.
People will not forgive those parties which do not join the unity efforts against the BJP, he said.
People want the Modi government's ouster as they have been hit hard by price rise and unemployment, the RJD president claimed, accusing it of making false promises.
(With PTI inputs)