PATNA: Even as a special CBI court in Ranchi on Wednesday deferred the pronouncement of sentence for convicted RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and 15 others in a fodder scam case to Thursday, the political air in Bihar was charged with speculation and exchange of barbs.
Yadav, lodged at Birsa Munda Central Jail near Ranchi since his conviction on December 23 in a case of the Rs 1,000-crore scam, was brought from jail to the court of judge Shivpal Singh amid high security. The sentencing was put off to Thursday as all the lawyers of the court stayed off work to condole the death of a colleague.
The 69-year-old leader, a former Bihar CM for two terms and former railway minister, was then brought back to the jail. Hundreds of RJD supporters from Bihar and Jharkhand followed his carcade up to the jail, giving security officials a hard time. Yadav looked dejected and refused to speak to journalists.
None of his family members was present in Ranchi as, according to RJD leaders, Yadav had asked them to stay in their residence in Patna. His elder son and former Bihar health minister Tej Pratap Yadav visited the famous Mahavir Hanuman temple at Patna railway station and held a special puja. The RJD chief’s wife, former CM Rabri Devi, and their younger son, former deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav, held a puja at their residence.
Lawyers familiar with the case against Lalu, who was earlier convicted in another fodder scam case in September 2013, said he could get a jail term ranging between three to seven years. If he gets a term of more than three years, he would have to move a high court for bail, they added.
Leaders of RJD, Bihar’s main Opposition party having the largest number of MLAs in the state Assembly, engaged in a war of words with leaders of the ruling JD(U) and BJP. While RJD leaders hoped Yadav would get a three-year jail term or less and would get bail at the CBI court itself, the ruling alliance leaders said Yadav deserves to spend the remaining part of his life behind the bars.
“Lalu should repent for his sins inside the jail. He should read the Gita in jail so that his soul gets peace when he dies,” said BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel, sparking angry outbursts from RJD leaders. JD(U) spokesperson Ajay Alok dubbed Yadav as an “incorrigibly corrupt” politician.