PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was formally named as the party’s national president for the tenth consecutive term on Tuesday, is apparently haunted by fears that he may have to go to jail.
The 69-year-old leader assured his party colleagues and supporters at RJD’s ongoing national executive meeting in Patna that he would keep leading the party from behind the bars like on previous occasions.
Yadav, a former railway minister and chief minister of Bihar, has so far spent 375 days in jail in connection with the cases of the Rs 1,000-crore fodder scam in which he figures as an accused. In five stints in jail between July 30, 1997, and January 27, 2002, Yadav spent 288 days in jail. Then, after he was convicted in a fodder scam case on September 30, 2013, he spent 87 days in jail. He came out of Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi on December 16, 2013, after the Supreme Court granted him bail.
RJD’s national executive meeting, in which office-bearers from 24 states took part, on Tuesday passed a resolution that the party would contest the 2020 Assembly polls in Bihar under the leadership of Tejaswi Yadav, Lalu’s younger son who served as deputy chief minister for 20 months in the erstwhile grand alliance government.
Senior RJD leader Mangnilal Mandal made a formal proposal to name Tejaswi, 29, the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2020 polls, and former MP Jagadanand Singh announced later that the resolution was adopted.
“They (NDA government at Centre and in Bihar) want to send me to jail. They have made all arrangements. They want that elections take place in Lalu’s absence. But I will keep leading the party from behind the bars like before,” said Lalu.
With the ongoing trials in the fodder scam cases against the RJD chief nearing completion, many in RJD believe a conviction could send him behind the bars yet again. His 2013 conviction came along with a sentence of a five-year prison term and debarred him from contesting elections for 11 years. But Yadav challenged the conviction in Patna High Court and secured bail from the apex court.
“No matter where I am sent, I live like an emperor. When I was lodged in the Ranchi jail, I was enjoying there, eating various fruits my supporters were bringing for me. Even if Lalu is thrown on a mountaintop, his public support keeps growing,” said the RJD chief in his address to the national executive.