Press Trust of India
Patna, January 30, 2007, Hindustan Times
Arch rivals in Bihar, the ruling JD(U) and the opposition RJD-Congress are having an acrimonious debate over ghosts, with both sides accusing each other of violating the law in this regard.
The ruling JD(U) has demanded the arrest of Railways Minister Lalu Prasad after television channels showed him invoking a goddess at his ancestral Fulwaria village in Gopalgunj district last week.
"Lalu Prasad was seen in the role of an exorcist on the occasion of invocation of the goddess at his native village a few days ago and he exorcised a ghost from a woman. His act violates the Bihar Witchcraft Prevention Act enacted by the erstwhile RJD government in 1999," JD(U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwari said.
According to law, the act of exorcism is punishable with provision of three months imprisonment or fine or both. The Railways Minister should be arrested immediately, Tiwari demanded.
On the other hand, the RJD and the Congress have taken exception to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's remark that he was not afraid of ghosts as he had the support of the BJP which he described as "a party of exorcists".
The two parties have demanded action against the chief minister and his ministers under the Prevention of Witchcraft Practices Act, 1999.
"If the Railways Minister can be charged with violating the Act, Nitish and his ministers are greater culprits," Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Premchandra Mishra said.
Kumar when contacted said, "Yes the law is there. The Congress and RJD have framed it."
On his statement describing the BJP as the "Ojha guni party", Kumar said, "Yes, I had said that but in a different context."
When the branches of the tree were pruned later, Prasad predicted that "this would ensure a short rule for Nitish".
Kumar had replied, tongue in cheek, "Lalu chuki khud bhoot ho gaye isliye bhoot ki ab baat karte hain (since Lalu is now now ex-CM he is speaking about ghosts)."
Prasad, not to be outdone, had alleged that the chief minister was "superstitious".
He claimed that this was evident from the appointment of the administrator of the state religious trust board to have recitals of Hanuman chalisa at the Mahavir temple every day at Kumar's behest.