Silence at Lalu Prasad’s Patna residence, former MP Tiwari says Grand Alliance won’t split
In a setback for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside a Ranchi High Court ruling and ordered that he be tried in all the remaining five fodder scam cases.patna Updated: May 08, 2017 22:25 IST
Even before the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the revival of conspiracy charges against RJD president Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam, silence had enveloped the official residence in Patna of his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi.
After the top court ruled that the RJD leader will stand separate trial in all five fodder scam cases pending against him, the silence at the 10, Circular Road residence became deafening even as a clutch of reporters gathered outside the gate.
All attempts by journalists to get a reaction from Prasad failed. The RJD chief has been under a barrage of BJP attacks on corruption charges involving his entire family for the last one month.
“He will not talk as he has not seen the order. He knows only as much as was shown on TV and he will not comment without knowing the contents of the order,” said Prasad’s public relations officer Shamim Ahmed.
Around 8.15 am, former MP Shivanand Tiwari was the first to arrive at Prasad’s residence and remained closeted with the RJD chief till noon. Tiwari had been with the RJD and JD(U) both.
Tiwari watched the television news about the SC order with Prasad, Rabri Devi and a few other family members. Tiwari, who was a member of both the RJD and the JD(U) earlier, is a close associate of the RJD chief.
The only other party member to join Prasad was RJD MLA Ramanand Yadav, who reached the house around 11 am, but did not speak to reporters.
Apparently, RJD leaders had been instructed not to rush to Prasad’s residence. It is quite unusual to find only a few visitors at 10, Circular Road on any given day.
When Tiwari came out, he brazened it out, telling reporters that there would be no impact of the SC ruling on the Grand Alliance (GA) government in Bihar.
“Those ‘desperately waiting’ for a split between chief minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad would face a big disappointment,” he said, adding, “the GA is intact and will take on the Narendra Modi-led BJP in 2019 with greater might and a bigger alliance. Nothing new is to emerge due to the court order,” Tiwari said. The GA is “unbreakable”, he added.
Tiwari said he would not comment on the top court’s order as he had not seen it.
“Prasad’s counsel had cited over a dozen examples when cases of similar nature were clubbed by the Supreme Court. In this case, the court did not agree to do so. When trial in all cases will commence separately, it is natural to have some problems,” he added.
Tiwari said the RJD chief was on bail and investigation had been completed in all the pending cases. “The Jharkhand high court had clubbed all the fodder scam cases. The SC did not agree with it. Now, we will see the order first,” he said.
The fodder scam relates to fraudulent withdrawal of around Rs. 1100 crore by the animal husbandry department from various districts in the then undivided Bihar when Prasad was the chief minister from 1990 to 1997.
The CBI had booked Prasad in six fodder scam cases related to fraudulent withdrawal of animal husbandry department (AHD) funds from different government treasuries during 1990-1995.
Prasad resigned as chief minister of Bihar on July 25, 1997 after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea. His conviction in one of the cases in 2013 disqualified him from Parliament and rendered him ineligible to contest elections for six years.
Over the past month, his sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, who are ministers in Nitish Kumar’s government, have been accused by the senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi of concealing vast real estate assets which were acquired dubiously.
THE AFTERMATH RJD leaders were apparently instructed not to rush to Prasad’s residence. It is quite unusual to find only a few visitors at 10, Circular Road on any given day
The fodder scam relates to fraudulent withdrawal of around Rs 1100 crore by the animal husbandry department from various districts in the then undivided Bihar when Prasad was the chief minister from 1990 to 1997
He (Lalu) will not talk as he has not seen the order. He knows only as much as was shown on TV and won’t comment without knowing the contents of the order.
— Shamim Ahmed, Lalu Prasad’s PRO
First Published: May 08, 2017 17:12 IST