With the fodder scam coming back to haunt RJD chief Lalu Prasad after the Supreme Court on Monday ordered reviving conspiracy charges, the BJP went hammer and tongs at the former Bihar chief minister and his coalition partner and incumbent CM Nitish Kumar.
The BJP virtually lined up its rank and file to carpet bomb Lalu and Nitish Kumar with barbs.
Hailing the Supreme Court order that Lalu Prasad will face trial in all five fodder scam cases, senior BJP leader in Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi described the verdict as the “end of the road” for the RJD chief in politics.
“It’s the end of the road in politics for Lalu Prasad as he is sure to be convicted in three other cases of fodder scam and would be debarred from electoral politics for many more years,” Modi, whose party was routed by the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance in the Bihar assembly elections November 2015, told reporters in Patna.
In New Delhi, the Centre questioned the Bihar chief minister’s silence over the ‘historic judgement’ in the fodder scam case.
“It is shocking. His silence baffles us. He was one of the prominent persons who led agitation against the fodder scam. Will he compromise it to save his position? Why is he silent on this historic judgement?” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Prasad said the order was a big jolt for Lalu who has been facing a barrage of allegations of corruption recently.
“It is a big jolt to Lalu Prasad and this jolt is because of his deeds. Every day, we are seeing some sort of allegations being levelled against him, be it related to property. What is the meaning of this? I believe the trial will take place soon,” he said.
The BJP also tried to make capital out of the SC order saying Lalu symbolises corruption and criminalisation of politics more than any other leader.
“Lalu Prasad represents every regressive trend in politics and symbolises corruption and criminalisation of politics more than anybody else,” BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao told reporters.
He also said the verdict reinforces public trust and hope in an honest polity and a clean break from the ugly politics of the past.
Rao said the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi was working towards heralding a new India by establishing a clean and development-oriented governance.
Another BJP leader, Shahnawaz Hussain said that there was no law and order in Bihar as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself was involved with the culprits.
“Nitish ji used to say that he will not compromise with any corruption, but now he has an alliance with fodder scam culprits. This shows there is no law and order in Bihar,” Hussain said.
In a major setback to Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s plea challenging the Jharkhand High Court’s order of dropping charges against the former Bihar chief minister in the fodder scam case. The two-judge bench also ruled that the trail has to be completed within nine months.
In 2014, the Jharkhand High Court had given relief to the RJD supremo and others by dropping charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of corruption in the fodder scam.
The court had quashed the cases on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidences.
However, the CBI had contended that though the cases have arisen from the fodder scam, they are different in nature as different amounts were involved from different treasuries.
The Supreme court also heard the plea filed by RJD supremo challenging his jail sentence in connection with the mid-1990s fodder scam case.
The fodder scam relates to fraudulent withdrawal of around Rs 1,000 crore by the Animal Husbandry department from various districts when Lalu was the Bihar chief minister from 1990 to 1997
Unfazed by the Supreme Court’s verdict, RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha told a news agency, “We always wanted the trial. Therefore the usage of words like ‘setback’ and ‘jolt’ is mere hype created by the media. Our legal battle will help us combat the political battle as well. We respect and welcome the legal proceedings and have full faith in the apex court.”
The party said the very fact that the whole trial will be wrapped up within the nine months was a relief as it would prove innocence of the so-called accused swiftly.