Fodder scam: Game over for Lalu Yadav?

Fodder scam: Game over for Lalu Yadav?
On 24 January 2018, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court sentenced former Bihar Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra to five years in jail in a fodder..

On 24 January 2018, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court sentenced former Bihar Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra to five years in jail in a fodder scam case. This is the third fodder scam case in which Yadav has been convicted. Lalu has already been convicted in two other cases related to the fodder scams that took place in Bihar in the 90s.

Fodder Scam

The Fodder Scam was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of about ₹9.4 billion (equivalent to ₹34 billion or US$530 million in 2016) from the government treasury of the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Among those implicated in the theft and arrested were then Chief Minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, as well as former Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra.

Background

Lalu Prasad Yadav is an Indian politician. He is from the state of Bihar and is the President of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Chief Minister of Bihar, former UPA Minister of Railways, and а former Member of Parliament of the 15th Lok Sabha.

He entered politics at Patna University as a student leader and was elected as then youngest member of the Lok Sabha in 1977 as a Janata Party candidate at the age of 29. He became Chief Minister of Bihar in 1990 but had to resign in 1997 following escalating corruption charges relating to the Fodder Scam.

From 1997 to 2005 his wife Rabri Devi ruled as the Chief Minister, who was accused by critics of being Lalu's "surrogate." Lalu's tenure as Chief Minister of the state has been criticized for lawlessness and has been termed as the Jungle Raj.

After a decade his party came back to power in Legislative Assembly elections with Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) as his coalition partner. Nitish left the coalition in 2017 after the Enforcement Directorate and CBI lodged several criminal cases against Lalu, his wife Rabri, his son and former deputy Chief Minister, Tejashwi Yadav.

Analysis

Lalu is presently serving 3.5 years jail imprisonment in Deogarh Treasury case. In 2013, the CBI court had convicted him in a similar case of fraudulent withdrawal from Chaibasa Treasury and sentenced him to five years in prison, but he got bail from the Supreme Court later that year.

The RJD on Wednesday said the special CBI court order convicting Lalu Prasad Yadav in a fodder scam case was not final and it would appeal in the high court and, if necessary, in the Supreme Court. Leader of the opposition in Bihar assembly and Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav also accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of framing his father who was viewed as a “hero” by the masses.

“We have to abide by whatever is the court’s ruling. But the CBI court order is not going to be final. We will appeal in the high court and, if need be, in the Supreme Court,” Yadav said about his father’s conviction in the third fodder scam case. “It is a common perception that Lalu Prasad, whom the public views as its hero, has been framed in the cases at the instance of Nitish Kumar and the BJP-RSS brigade,” Tejashwi Yadav told reporters outside Raj Bhavan here.

Lalu Prasad’s detractors, he added, have always been scared of his immense popularity.

The former Bihar deputy Chied=f Minister added, it is mistaken as the RJD would give a fitting reply to the NDA whenever elections are held. Tejashwi Yadav and other senior RJD leaders called on governor Satya Pal Malik and submitted a memorandum to him alleging that the law and order situation in the state was deteriorating and the weaker sections of the society, especially the Dalits, were being oppressed.

He also took up the issue of the Srijan scam, in which government funds worth about Rs1,000 crore were allegedly diverted to the accounts of a non-government organization. “We hope that the CBI would investigate the multi-crore Srijan scam seriously and examine the role of the chief minister and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi in the corruption scandal.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Lalu is not the only Bihar’s strongman who has been or will be accused of malpractices. He is just another "milestone" on the "power corrupts highway". We believe that though he is not part of the government he has adequate support amongst the masses. 

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