Lalu says coalition era to stay; no harm in wishing to be PM

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) Stressing that the Centre was in for a long era of coalition governments, RJD chief and Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad. today said he was not averse to becoming Prime Minister.

''There is no harm in nurturing the wish, and if it is destined, it will happen,'' he said while speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.

Mr Prasad along with TDP chief ChandraBabu Naidu was participating in the session titled 'Power Shift: Will the States Lead the Centre'.

Both the leaders said the era of coalition politics had already started even as back as in the 1960s, and the emergence of regional parties had in fact done more good to the country than harm, as generally propagated.

They also believed that the next government at the Centre too cannot be formed by the Congress or the BJP alone.

Though Mr Naidu said next Prime minister could very well be some regional leader, he ruled out the possibility of himself getting the top post, saying, ''I nurtured no such ambitions.'' But the RJD chief said he saw no harm in having the wish to get that post. Whereas Mr Naidu, while replying to a questiion as to who will become next prime minister, said that would be decided on the basis of people's verdict in the Lok Sabha elections. Mr Prasad said' it could be any one with a non-BJP background.

Both the leaders agreed that the country needed both a strong Centre and strong states. They felt that the trend of regional parties becoming stronger would continue and there would be more consolidation among them in future.

In this connection, the RJD chief in his inimitable humourous style remarked that he always remained in touch with the TDP chief ''though he would not disclose it to others.'' Mr Lalu Prasad said it was because of strong regional parties that the people from the unprivileged sections of the society were getting nominated to contest elections to the country's supreme legislature.

''If you turn the pages of Parliament's history, you will find that its face has changed,'' he said referring to the fact of MPs from unprivileged sections getting elected to the Lok Sabha.

In fact, the regional parties and the kind of people such parties were sending to legislature had made the Indian democracy more representative, said the RJD chief.

In this connection, he said his party was not against women reservation, but was for such arrangements and provisions as could secure reservation to the most disadvantaged among them.

Mr Prasad mentioned the turnaround in the Railways since he has headed the Ministry and expressed resolve for generation of Rs 1 lakh crore though he accepted that the global economic slowdown might affect the target to some extent.

Replying to a question on the backwardness of his state Bihar, he said it was beacuse of stepmotherly treatment that the state remained backward. No money was spent on providing infrastructure, so industry, barring the Jameshedpur example, could come to the state.

UNI NAZ SW RN1719

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