By Dheeraj Kumar
Patna: A challenging situation unfolded for RJD today when Ranchi-based Special CBI Court sentenced party supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav to three-and-half years of imprisonment in yet another case of fodder scam, lengthening his stay in jail in the process.
The CBI special judge Shiv Pal Singh sentenced three-and-half year of imprisonment each and also slapped a penalty of Rs 5 lakh each after finding Lalu guilty under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating, dishonesty), 467 (forgery), 471 (forged record) and 477 (A) (falsification) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 13 (2), read with section 13 (1) (c), (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Both the punishments would run concurrently.
Now, Lalu has to move the High Court for bail since he has been sentenced for more than three years.
Undeterred by all these setbacks, Lalu`s wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi and sons-Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav put up a brave face back home in Patna claiming that there was no threat to the unity of party following the judgement.
“Unity among party leaders and workers is solid-rock”, Tejaswi replied to a media query.
RJD also held a marathon meeting at the official residence of Rabri Devi, 10 Circular Road in the state capital today. The meeting, which was attended by senior leaders including party MPs, MLAs and MLCs. The entire exercise is largely seen as RJD top leadership`s attempt to show that the unity among party leaders is intact. RJD leaders also formulated party`s future strategy in absence of Lalu.
Tejaswi who was deputy chief minister in grand alliance government went to the extent of finding fault with “negative politics, being pursued by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJP” for the judgement against Lalu.
Tejaswi also asked party leaders and workers to spread the message of Lalu, which was sent by him from Ranchi-based Birsa Munda Central Jail.
Lalu in his message said, “Those status-quoists have implicated me in the scam against whom he had fought for the purpose of integrating deprived people and Dalits with the mainstream of the society”.
RJD leaders would circulate the four-page message, ‘Lalu ke sandesh’ printed in green among people by visiting their houses across the state after ‘Makar Sankranti’.
Tejaswi’s elder brother and former Bihar health minister Tej Pratap Yadav said, “We have full confidence in the judiciary. Lalu Ji will definitely get bail from the court. We are not going to be scared by feudal forces. We will fight against these forces firmly as they could not break our unity. We will fight against them with all force at our command and we are not going to bow down before them”.
Rabri Devi said that Lalu had been falsely implicated in the scam by the Opposition parties like BJP in desperation. She also exhorted all party leaders and workers to remain united and fight against such forces.
In her address to senior RJD leaders, Rabri Devi said, ”The Opposition parties know it fully well that they cannot broaden their support base if RJD Chief remains present with them”.
“It was the reason RJD Chief was falsely implicated in the case,” she remarked.
This was, however, Tejaswi who led the attack from Lalu family on BJP as well as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “It is strange to note that leader of the party voted to power in 2015 Bihar assembly elections, had been put behind bars while those rejected by the people, were running government in the state”, he remarked. “Our party is united like rock and people hopeful of any trouble in the party are in illusion”, Tejaswi quipped in same breath. The RJD leader said that Nitish Kumar and BJP should not consider that their problems are over with the incarceration of Lalu Prasad. “People are well aware of the conspiracy hatched by Nitish Kumar and BJP to implicate Mr Prasad and they would give them befitting reply in the next Lok Sabha election,” he remarked.