Shankerdeo Jha in Patna/ Ranchi
There is nothing quite as telltale as the silence of a politician gasping for a political resurrection at a time when the court decision in 17 year old fodder scam case has already tighten screw on oxygen tap. And the silence of a man like former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whose essence must surely lie in his mouth, speaks tomes. The CBI court of PK Singh in Ranchi held him guilty; awarding him five years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25 lakh in nation’s one of the fabled and infamous embezzlement fodder scams.
Judicial guillotine will rob Lalu off his membership in parliament. Lalu turned nervous when the court pronounced punishment since conviction comes along with six year bar on contesting election. Uneasy, though silent Lalu now behind the bars at Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi; must be thinking and applying techniques to mend the crisis but there is scramble and chatter of succession of Lalu Prasad.
Lalu’s conviction may open multiple possibilities in Bihar that may affect template of national politics.
Lalu’s physical absence from the public stage in the run-up to 2014 may create a leadership deficit at the top of the RJD. It may well trigger new socio-political alignments that could alter the shape of the next Lok Sabha.
After the scam finally broke in 1996 Lalu’s remained a frequent jail visitor — six times not less — in the fodder scam case costing his Chief Ministerial position. Though, he got his wife, Rabari Devi as Chief Minister who was Lalu’s rubber stamp but an embarrassment for the party, often.
But his seventh jail journey has come with emboss of conviction on corruption charges on his white color which will be hard to erase. His party will have a tough time to rework Muslim-Yadav combination plus anti-Nitish Kumar vote for an electoral gain.
The RJD camp is seething with anger and blames Congress as an untrustworthy partner which is courting the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the JD(U) Congress tie-up. “I hope Laluji might have got sense of how Congress could be poisonous. From the first day I was opposed to any tie-up with Congress but it was the wishes of Laluji. The court judgment is blow on us. Well we will go to the public telling them conspiracy behind conviction. But a conviction is a conviction… dent on his image has already been made,” a senior RJD said who doesn’t want to be quoted. And in the given mood of the nation none will like to tie-up with Lalu. In short, Lalu is the only asset of his party and the biggest liability too.
Can RJD hope for an alliance with the Congress? It appears less feasible a prospect. A Congressman said: “You have seen how Rahul Gandhi violently reacting over controversial ordinance to save convicted politicians it should be read in context of Bihar too.”
Has Congress entered into any deal with the JD(U) in Bihar? But politically suggestive and seductive noises and voices indicates an alignment indeed in the making ahead 2014 general elections. Lalu’s conviction has come as a promise for bonus for Nitish Kumar and the BJP dent in the RJD fold which has just started flapping helplessly. Nitish Kumar is eying on entire chunk of 15-odd per cent Muslims and sections of the backward vote to add into the Pasmanda Muslim-Kurmi-Mahadalit vote arithmetic.
Yadavs constituting 14 percent of entire Bihar population have stuck by Lalu Prasad and the RJD through the worst of times. But it has become a prime target of the BJP and Narendra Modi who has made considerable impact on Bihar’s OBC segment. Months before this judgment, RJD MLC Nawal Kishore Yadav praised Narendra Modi as the most promising leader on the political scene. Yadav was suspended for an open Modi praise. It was an indication of disturbing restiveness among Yadavs re-examining options to shift allegiance. After all, Yadav remained power centre for a decade in Bihar and it may well consider other options to politically sustain. Nitish Kumar and the JD(U) with known leaning towards the Kurmis; Yadav may not accept a Kurmi leadership. But the BJP having couple of prominent Yadav leaders; the community has a case to look towards the BJP. The meeting Sadhu Yadav (brother-in-law of Lalu Prasad) with Narendra Modi a month back, was yet another indication of influential Yadav section seeking realignment with the BJP. At this moment, the RJD working out strategy to keep its Yadav flock together saying their leader will return to fight for them. But when and how, remain moot questions.
Soon after the verdict his wife Rabri Devi announced mother and son (Tejaswi) will run the party on the line of Sonia Gandhi Rahul Gandhi tandem in the Congress. But many in the party are loath to work under them. Rabari for her sizeable political deficiency and Tejaswi who is trying admission in political kindergarten neither possess charisma, nor the magnetism of Lalu Prasad which helped the party to stay alive despite the last two electoral mandates delivered a severe blow on the party.
Prisoner No 3312
February 1985: The then Comptroller and Auditor General of India, TN Chaturvedi, noticed delay in monthly account submissions by Bihar treasury and department
In 1992: Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi, a police inspector with the state anti-corruption vigilance unit submitted a report outlining the fodder scam and likely involvement at the chief ministerial level. In alleged reprisal, Dvivedi was transferred out of the vigilance unit to a different branch of the administration.
January 1996: Deputy Commissioner Amit Khare raided offices of animal husbandry department, and seized documents showing siphoning off of funds. BJP leader Sushil Modi filed a PIL in Patna High court for CBI inquiry.
March 11, 1996: Patna High Court directed CBI to probe the scam.
June 17, 1996: Governor gave permission for prosecution of Lalu and others.
June 21, 1996: Fearing that evidences and documents essential in further explosion of the scam were being destroyed, the CBI conducted raids on Lalu’s residence and some of his suspected relatives.
June 23, 1997: CBI filed chargesheet and made Lalu an accused.
July 25, 1997: Lalu resigned as CM, made his wife Rabri Devi new CM.
July 30, 1997: Lalu surrendered before the CBI court and was sent to judicial custody. He was released on bail after 135 days on December 12, 1997. Trial began in Ranchi Special CBI Court after cases transferred to Jharkhand in 2002.
September 30, 2013: CBI judge Pravas Kumar Singh pronounced all 45 accused guilty. Lalu and Jagannath Mishra were sent to Hotwar Jail of Ranchi.
October 3, 2013: Lalu sentenced to five years imprisonment with fine of Rs 25 lakh.
Fact files of the case
Case no RC 20 (A)/1996 where Lalu stands an accused.
Originally the total number of accused in this case were 56 including two former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad and Dr Jagannath Mishra and other politicians. Lalu Prasad was found guilty under section 120B, 420, 467, 468, 477 & 477 (A) of IPC and Section 13 (1), 13 (1) (D) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act (public servant committing criminal misconduct)
Case summary as per chargesheet: The case is relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore from Chaibasa treasury to show supply of feed, fodder, equipments, medicines and others using 78 fake bills.
Role of Lalu in the conspiracy
Lalu Prasad remained Chief Minister of Bihar from 1990 to 1997 and retained Finance Department. Lalu Prasad holding Finance Department was aware of huge and suspicious withdrawal of amount in AHD. He connived with politicians, AHD officials and suppliers to allow loot of the public treasure and shielded culprits from probe.
Four years jail to Congress MP Rasheed Masood in recruitment scam
It is cleaning time in Indian politics. The tainted politicians are being put to the places they deserve i.e. jails. On October 1, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood became the first Member of Parliament to be disqualified after being convicted under the Prevention of Corruptions Act. He was convicted in the MBBS recruitment scam by a special CBI court in Delhi.
Masood, Minister of Health in the VP Singh Government between 1990 and 1991, was held guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the central pool. He was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery). Other nine students who are convicted in the case, have also been given one year imprisonment each and a fine of Rs 40,000 each.
Inputs by Nishant Kumar Azad